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.

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