It is twenty-five years since Harvey’s Brewery produced its first ‘Green Hop’ beer, using freshly harvested hops.
A strictly ‘seasonal brew’ 'South Down Harvest’ (5.0% abv) celebrates the age-old interaction between the brewery and the local agricultural economy. For over two centuries, raw materials have been sourced from local farmers and the by-products of brewing returned to the land for animal feed and mulch.
Sussex malted barley, from Britain’s oldest working maltings at Warminster, is combined with Sussex hops grown within thirty miles of Lewes.
Our brewers visited Andrew Hoad’s farm at Salehurst and collected both freshly picked and freshly kilned hops from the recent harvest to deploy at different stages of the brew. This year’s vintage will utilise a single variety of hop, appropriately named the ‘Sussex Hop’. It was discovered growing wild in a hedgerow at Northiam in 2005 and proved to bear no resemblance to any known variety. The result of open pollination in the wild, it has since been cultivated and grown to good effect. It imparts a ‘grassy’, meadow-like, character to the beer and a well-rounded bitterness.
A second ‘Green Hop’ beer is being brewed, in parallel, to celebrate this milestone.
‘Star of Eastbourne’ (5.5% abv) was brewed in 2004 to launch the very first ‘Eastbourne Beer Festival’. The name acknowledged the town’s own ‘Star Brewery’ (1777 – 1967), but was also deemed appropriate for a beer that was designed as a traditional, classic ‘India Pale Ale’.
The maritime connection was evident and we chose to brew with ‘Admiral’ hops – a variety that had been grown since 1996. As well as providing a bitterness that is both assertive and resinous, this hop has also been credited with imparting a slightly ‘orangey’ character. It seemed an appropriate choice to reflect the trading of a bygone age.
Dorothy and Richard Hollamby’s farm at Burwash includes one hop garden that dates back to 1684. It is less than ten miles distance from Salehurst and we were able to procure quantities of freshly picked, and kilned, Admiral hops during an enchanting visit to their picking shed and oast house.
Both beers were brewed the following day. They will be racked this week and held in store to condition before being released to trade at the beginning of October.