Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Southdown and East Grinstead Breweries Limited

I reported in my previous post about a Harvey and Son’s recreation of a recipe from Southdown and East Grinstead Breweries. This company, Southdown and East Grinstead Breweries Ltd. (henceforth SEG) was formed in 1895 by the merger of Dashwood & Co, Hope Brewery, East Grinstead with A. G. S and T. S. Manning, Southdown Brewery, Lewes.

The Hope Brewery, London Road, East Grinstead, was so named after a possible rebuilding during the period (c. 1839-1844) of the partnership of Burt & Hooker, although brewing on the site may have dated back to 1762. Subsequent owners were Edward Kenward, followed by Charles Absalom then, from 1877, John Dashwood. The Southdown Brewery, Thomas Street, in the Cliffe area of Lewes, was established by 1838 and acquired in 1895 by Augustus and Thomas Manning. In July of the same year they acquired Dashwood’s East Grinstead enterprise and registered the new, joint name, accurately conveying the fact that brewing continued on both sites.

The process of acquisitions did not cease there. In 1898 SEG gained a listing on the Stock Exchange and acquired Joseph Langton’s Dolphin Brewery, Cuckfield, with eight houses, and nearby rival Edward Monk’s Bear Brewery, Bear Yard, Lewes, with fifty-three houses. In 1907 SEG acquired the Station and New Road breweries of George Ockenden & Son, Crawley. But the early 20th century had seen SEG in commercial contraction and in 1920 it leased both its breweries and all ninety-three houses to Tamplin & Sons of Brighton, who purchased them outright four years later for £274, 000.

From the old label images and the tin advert (at the Horns Lodge pub, South Chailey, East Sussex), we know that SEG bottled bright a Dinner Ale, an Oatmeal Stout and another beer called Eclipse. The larger advertisement was obtained from the Cuckfield museum.

Barber, Norman (edited by Mike Brown and Ken Smith) (2005) A Century of British Brewers, Longfield: Brewery History Society.

Holter, Graham (2001) Sussex Breweries, Seaford: S B Publications.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Harveys Coopers Cask

My previous post reported on the first bottled ale in Fuller, Smith & Turner’s Past Masters Heritage Series. Nearer to home, another long-established independent family brewery is also revisiting the old brewing books and techniques. Harvey & Son has installed a micro-brewery on the site of their original Georgian brewhouse at Bridge Wharf Brewery, Lewes, East Sussex. Harveys' promotional literature (left image) states their intention to reproduce on the 5-barrel plant - originally in use at Cuckmere Haven Brewery (1994-2003) - an array of styles using recipes from long-defunct breweries within the area that once comprised the ‘County Town’ of Lewes.

Both the first brew to be produced on the ‘Georgian’ micro-brewery and the first public appearance of such a beer was the 6.0% Sussex Sovereign at the Sussex CAMRA Branches Beer & Cider Festival, Hove, from 10th-12th March this year. It was an excellent, full-flavoured malty brew, well-balanced with seven different varieties of Sussex hops. But my first sighting and tasting of ‘recreated’ “County Town” microbrewery beers were at the Wheatsheaf pub Beer and Music Festival, Jarvis Brook, Crowborough, East Sussex, on May 28th. What I’m reporting on here is Coopers Cask.

I’ve never previously heard of a style of beer called Coopers Cask, but according to Harveys' Head Brewer, Miles Jenner, it was blend of stout and porter that declined in popularity from the 1920s. This particular 5.3% beer is an authentic recreation of a Southdown and East Grinstead Breweries Ltd.  recipe from 1913. My tasting notes are not especially detailed (it was, after all, my eleventh beer of the day) but I recorded it as a well-balanced dark beer albeit with the porter element dominating. A sweet nose with burnt molasses, the first taste is of redcurrants giving way to a whisky-warmth with a pronounced liquorice aftertaste. On our return from Crowborough we stopped off to search the pubs of Lewes for any further examples, but to no avail.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fuller’s Past Masters – XX Strong Ale

While the face that Fuller’s presents to the public is a chintz-shirted James May advertising the ubiquitous London Pride, much more remarkable, newsworthy developments are taking place behind the scenes at the Griffin brewery, Chiswick, West London. Down in the archives dusting off the old, hand-written brewing books have been Head Brewer, John Keeling, and Brewing Manager, Derek Prentice. With help from brewing historian, Ron Pattinson, the result is the first in Fuller’s Past Masters Heritage Series: the 7.5% bottle-conditioned XX Strong Ale. Called XXK in its original 19th century version, the K denoted ‘keeping’, a beer designed to be hopped down in the vats for maturity, three months for this resurrected version, hence the alcoholic strength and high hop-loading for preservation.

Attempting to authentically resurrect a recipe from 2nd September 1891 brings its own difficulties and the bottle I sampled in the Hock Cellar at Fuller’s brewery last month is an adaptation of original ingredients and modern brewing processes. The malt used in the original XXK was imported from Germany, the Middle East and what is now the Czech Republic, so a close British match was required. The substitute barley, Plumage Archer, a variety dating from 1905, was provided organically from a Gloucestershire farm and malted using the traditional germination-drum process by Simpsons Malt (see left image).

Along with pale and crystal malt, the fermentable material was No 2 invert sugar. Hops used were Fuggles with late copper and dry hopping with Goldings, emerging at about 55 IBU. This amber-hued brown beer pours with an aroma of bitter pear and tangerine. The initial taste is of rich, sweet malt and caramel fruit, leading to a drier, bitter, warming finish from the hops and alcohol. And as a post-script, the second in this series is now out, a 7.4% Double Stout, brewed to a recipe from 4th August 1893. I picked up a bottle from the Basketmakers Arms, Brighton, on Saturday.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

New Imbiber Magazine

I’m a contributing editor of the New Imbiber magazine; the latest issue is now out (43, June/July 2011) and I’ve a batch to deliver to the Stanley Arms, Portslade, East Sussex, in time for their beer festival this weekend. The New Imbiber, an independent magazine reporting on new beers and breweries, is an indispensable read for tickers and scoopers. It is available both on subscription from selected pubs (see back cover image) and from http://www.beerinnprint.co.uk/. We’re seeking new outlets for the magazine, so if you know of a pub or club that is willing to become a stockist, please let me know at thequaffer@yahoo.co.uk. Alternatively, contact Paul Travis at mail@beerinnprint.co.uk; or ring Paul on 01422 844437 for details on how to become a stockist.

In addition to such regular features as Newsline reports on new breweries, extensive Brewery Update listings and New Beers Update listings, Book Review and Crossword, this 28-page issue includes Woody’s Wanderings around Burton-on-Trent and Liverpool, Richard Plumb revisiting an old favourite South London pub, David Hughes on match-day imbibing in Manchester and his weekend tour of the best bars of Amsterdam and Haarlem.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Raw Anubis Porter

I’m always interested to try for the first time a beer from a new brewery that’s been the subject of one of my New Imbiber newsline articles.

 I first reported on David Hemstock’s Raw Brewing Company, of Staveley, Derbyshire, in Issue 38, Aug/Sept 2010. But I had to wait until 4th June for my first two Raw offerings: Edge (4.5%) and Anubis Porter (5.2%), both at the Cask Pub & Kitchen, Pimlico, London. The porter had an appealing appearance, black but red hued when held to the light with a thin film of tan bubbles for the head. Aroma was of coffee-cream, cradled by caramel. Mild roast malt and coffee flavours on the first taste were carried by a smooth, silky mouthfeel. A subtle rather than robust beer for its strength, its sweetness gave way to a drier, hoppy aftertaste. It wasn’t the best conditioned beer on the bar that day but still a pleasing enough porter that was worth a full pint after the initial half. Anubis, the ancient Egyptian, jackal-headed god of the dead, is depicted in line drawings in the lower half of the pump clip.