Thursday, 31 October 2013

Brilliant Beers: Harveys - The Champagne of Beers

This photo was taken from gibbo1070
as part of the CCL
I have done a number of beer posts up until now, describing them as 'one of the best beers out there' or 'one of my favorite ales'. Although both of these are true, I can safely and categorically say that Harvey's is my number 1 favorite beer.

I say this not only because it is great to drink, but it has fantastic history both throughout the country and within my family.

Originated in 1790 in Lewes, East Sussex, both the brewery and their best bitter has been a constant fixture and a staple of the South East for 8 generations. Originally associated with ports, clarets and spirits, their beer brewing started to really take shape in 1859 with porters, stouts and some mild ales. Over the generations, the family-run brewery has used traditional, local ingredients to develop one of the best known and, in my eyes, the single best beer in Britain- Harvey's Best Bitter.

Brewed using a combination of Maris Otter malted barley, fuggles and goldings hops, their own unique yeast, and rainwater filtered through the chalky downs taken from their private artesian well 60 feet below the brewery, Harvey's Best Bitter is a true British pint.

My father and his brother grew up in Lewes, a stones throw from the Brewery, and were of course brought up on the amber nectar. Similar to Guinness in Ireland, if you walk into a pub in East Sussex and ask for a 'pint', you'll get Harvey's. Dad even told me stories of the two rival pubs in the area when he was growing up: one day, their local decided to branch out and stop selling Harvey's, only to be forced into bringing it back to the pub after less than a month because all their customers had moved onto the rival pub down the road to get their Harvey's fix for the day. It was a town literally built on Harveys. And the brewery is still the focal point.

So, I appear to have built this beer up rather a lot. What does it actually taste like? Described by the men at the brewery as a 'superbly balanced session beer' you can probably understand partly why I like it so much! At 4.0% exactly, it has a prominent hop character, a sprinkle of spice and a lovely delicate mixture of citrus and nettle. Incredibly smooth, it still packs plenty of flavour, which balances out with a long and refreshing taste on the palate. For me it is exactly what I expect from a British Best Bitter: a blend of hops, pepper, tangy fruit and supple bitterness.Fantastic.
Photo taken from Real Ale Reviews as part of the CCL

It is available in a number of pubs throughout the South East, and for those Londoners out there, The Royal Oak in Borough Market are the only pub in the capital which stock it.

Many of you Londoners may have seen how busy that pub is on a Saturday throughout the day, and now you know it's because of Harvey's. Even the street isn't big enough for the number of people that flock to its gates.
Oh yes, many a weekend has been spent shivering outside The Royal Oak clutching a pint of the Harvo! But it is more than worth it.

So all this talk is great, but this beer also has some serious silverware, including winning the Best Bitter category at the Great British Beer Festival two years in a row. Yes, two years in a row from 2005-2006. And if that isn't enough, recently Piers Morgan said that Harvey's Best was 1 of 3 things he missed most about living in Britain.

Thankfully, Harvey's doesn't miss him.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get a pint of Harvey's!

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