Havant brewery is run by husband and wife team, Mike and Caroline Charlton. The couple opened for business in April 2009 at their home in Cowplain, Waterlooville, Hampshire, producing four firkins per brew on a 1-barrel plant. Initial demand was so high they quickly increased brewing to four times a week.
Two years later, having won a number of awards for their beers at festivals and still unable to keep up with demand, they designed, constructed and installed their own 3-barrel brewery with two fermenting vessels. In another expansion, earlier this year, Mike and Caroline moved their brewery to its new, eponymous home at Havant, on an industrial estate just a few minutes stroll from the town’s railway station.
An Open Day was held on Saturday 16th March. On a morning of scudding clouds, sudden showers, and puddles forming in pavements and walkways, I found my way to the brewery slightly early, several minutes before 11am. Glad to see the doors already ajar, I peered through and was warmly welcomed inside. A few people were already present, more promptly arrived and it wasn’t long before quite a crowd had assembled and Mike was conducting his first tour of the day. A festive atmosphere was soon upon us and, as if to bless the occasion, the sun emerged, bathing the brewery interior in warm, bright shafts of light.
I’m a huge fan of darker beers and was delighted to see on the brewery bar, alongside two regular beers, Havant Started (4.0%) and Havant Finished (5.0%), a sweet stout Havant Herd (4.2%). This was a new beer to me and my first taste found the roasted coffee flavours to be perfectly balanced by Lactose sweetness and notes of light milk chocolate. The stout was also a delicious accompaniment to the cheese on crackers with home-made chutney that were appearing on plates around the place. Also on was their pale ale P09 (3.8%), also known as Havant Decided.
After a couple of very enjoyable hours I had to depart, with Sussex Drinkers to deliver to Portsmouth pubs. As the first lot of visitors exited, having first purchased various takeouts, bottles and boxes for home consumption, more people wandered in to take their place and it was time for Caroline to serve more customers and Mike to commence yet another talk. Some folks like to take Saturday afternoon at leisure but Havant brewery would be bustlingly busy for quite a few hours yet.
We wish Mike and Caroline every success in their new premises.
Havant Brewery, Unit 25, The Tanneries, Brockhampton Lane, Havant, Hampshire PO9 1JB; tel. 02392 476067.