Thursday, 12 July 2018

A visit to Harvey's Brewery

After the warm up at Burning Sky the main event was at Harvey's the next day. We were meeting at 11 am in the brewery tap before the BHS AGM at noon. Or at least that was the plan but a couple of leisurely pints of mild before getting down to business was not to be for me. A points failure meant my train slowly sauntered south and there was only time for a swifty before things kicked off.

Despite running late I stopped to take the obligatory photo of the brewery from the bridge in Lewes, correctly assuming that by the time I staggered back I'd completely forget about it.

Good, innit?

Though not quite up to IBD speed standards the AGM was mercifully brief. If only the committee meetings were like that.

If the BHS embraced keg beer there'd probably be more young people or something

A tour of the listed brewery followed the AGM

The extension to the tower only dates from the 80s though

We heard more from Head Brewer Miles Jenner before going inside:

He talked about when they were flooded. The tank behind him was ripped out of the concrete.

The flood level is marked by the plaque above the head of the gentleman on the right:

They still have a copper Copper, though it's relatively recent, dating from the 90s if I remember rightly. Miles was worried switching to all stainless steel might upset the yeast so replaced the old Copper with a new copper one.

They have a stainless Copper too.

and a steam engine they fire up once a year.

Old and new mash tuns too:

as well as a Sugar Dissolving Vessel with syrups and blocks of invert sugar:

This is where the sacks of malt enter the brewery:

Some of the hops come from The Hampton Estate so bear the Farnham bell.

A map on the wall from 1980 showed where hop farms were then:

Good old Bastard East Kent is there but shockingly no mention of Farnham.

This crime is then compounded by a diagram saying the Farnham bell is used for hops from Hampshire:

I believe all the hop farms in Hampshire are now gone, though the number of hop farms in the Farnham area in Surrey has recently doubled. Sadly only to two though.

Inside a mash tun

More of the copper Copper
They use open fermenters. The parachute shown below is used for yeast cropping. It can be lowered into the yeast head and the yeast runs into it and then down a pipe to where it can be collected below.

The gravity is given in Pounds Per Barrel, which I think makes it 48.6 in degrees Sacch. They still use Fahrenheit too.

Here's a parachute in an empty Fermenting Vessel, with an attemperator to cool the beer on the left, and what looks like some beer stone at the back.

Lots of dipsticks:

Harvey's are the only brewery in Britain to still use returnable bottles.

The 1948 chiller on the left
The recently returned to kegging to satisfy the demand of people who prefer beer that is not the pinnacle of the brewers art. They sell around a thousand barrels of keg a year.

The filler is from Lambrechts
As all good brewery tours do we ended in the sample room, where I'm delighted to say Tom Paine was on despite the fact we'd not quite reached July. I used to have a pilgrimage to Lewes with my dad every July to drink that beer.

The winner for beer of the day was Armada in the brewery tap though, but then the magic of cask beer is not something for mortals to understand.

Monday, 9 July 2018

A visit to Burning Sky brewery

As a warm up before the Brewery History Society AGM there was a visit to Burning Sky brewery. They don't normally do tours but Miles Jenner of Harvey's Brewery is our current president and he was able to organise it.

The brewery is based in a couple of barns.

The sky certainly was burning when we visited, though the name comes from a song by The Jam, one of Woking's finest exports*. Apparently the lyrics fitted with what was going on at Dark Star brewery, Burning Sky founder Mark Tranter's former employer.

It's a 15 barrel brewery...

...though it does have a few features that set it apart from the ordinary:

There's a hop rocket for dry hopping

And the mash tun is equipped with rakes for mixing when lambic style turbid mashes are made

There are foeders for maturing beer

A coolship for making lambic style beers

And wooden barrels filled with beer slowly fermenting away.

They do cask, keg and bottled beers.

We got to try a few of the bottles and I was particularly taken with Recusant, which has more than a touch of Orval about it. I'll definitely be getting more of it next time I see it.

* Don't listen to London imperialist Des De Moor when he tries to claim Paul Weller.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Coping with the CO2 crisis

As someone who not only drinks in the ways of righteousness but has extensive stocks of beer at home I've not been worried by the current shortage of CO2 in Europe. The good lord saw fit to make the production and serving of beer perfectly possible without the use of CO2 and god's chosen representatives on earth have taken the opportunity to re-state this point.This did, perhaps predictably, lead to howls of outrage from twerps on twitter but I care not one jot.

Though in these ecumenical times the denigration of other, lesser, types of beer is now prohibited this should not prevent the veneration of the one true living beer. The shortage of CO2 provides a good opportunity to to reflect on how god intended beer to be made and remember the importance of letting real ale into your life. And mouth.

No extraneous CO2 was used in the production or serving of these beers