Inside Harvey’s


Yesterday afternoon, Head Brewer Miles Jenner gave me a tour of Harvey’s Brewery in the beautiful little town of Lewes in Sussex. Harvey’s is a seventh-generation company that actually started out in spirits before becoming a brewery in the late 1800s. They are known for Best, a dark bitter that combines both higher levels of sweetness and bitterness than most.

Miles is the second Jenner to work for Harvey’s. His father was Head Brewer before him—and every Jenner going back five generations was a brewer as well. (In Britain, “Head Brewer” is the most senior position and has a status similar to brewmaster in Germany.) He is a wonderful gentleman brewer, a man who has made, by his own reckoning, around 400 “gyles” (batches) of Best each of his 33 years. Harvey’s is truly a place of cræft, and Miles the master cræftsman.

I could go on for pages about the history, brewery, and beer, but time is short. So instead of giving nothing, how about some pictures instead? (And fear not; there’s more to come. I recorded a podcast with Miles.)

The little windowed alcove at right is a shaft where the malt is delivered by bag.

No silo; the brewery uses locally-grown Maris Otter malt.

All hops are sourced from Sussex, Kent, and Surrey. Harvey’s is situated not far from most of the UK’s hop fields.

Miles Jenner rubbing a recent variety called Sussex, which has a history like Amarillo—a plant just appeared one day and they continue to grow that variety under the Sussex name.

A copper-clad cast-iron mash tun. The brewery has a more recent one as well, but it’s not as romantic.

The copper mid-boil. Believe it or not, this is a relatively recent piece of equipment. (In Britain, kettles are known as “coppers.”)

The old steam engine. It’s no longer used, but they fire it up once a year ceremonially.

All the fermenters are open; some round, some square. It has no effect on the beer.

Fermentation room.

Miles Jenner in his office.