Meet the Brewer: Harbour Brewing
This is a London-centric blog, but sometimes (just very occasionally, of course) something interesting turns up outside London. Like today, for example, when new Cornish craft brewery Harbour Brewing has their official launch.
I met Harbour Brewing founders Eddie (Lofthouse) and Rhys (Powell) at a Mikkeller event at Cask Pub & Kitchen a couple of months ago, heard about their plans to launch a brewery, and stayed in touch. So far Cornwall hasn’t been craft brewing territory the way London or Yorkshire is – there’s Sharp’s, of course (Rhys used to be a brewer there), and St Austell’s, but not much besides. So it was fun to hear about someone wanting to put Cornwall on the craft beer map!
Rhys and Eddie are very much inspired by the current top names in US and UK craft brewing. Says Eddie: “Here in the UK there are breweries creating some amazing beers. Brewdog are consistently pushing the boundaries. Kernel is producing some exceptional stouts and porters, and Redemption is also producing some admirable stuff. I used to spend a lot of time in the US and drank lots of beer out there. I like Russian River, Rogue, and Dogfish Head but there are so many. Danish brewer Mikkeller is probably who we are drawing inspiration from right now. His beers are creative and his approach innovative, what he creates is sublime. He is a true craft brewer.”
Harbour Brewing will have a core range of four beers: Harbour IPA (ABV 5.o draft/5.4 bottled), a US-style IPA, Harbour Amber Ale (ABV 4.o draft/4.4 bottled), Harbour Light Ale (ABV 3.7 draft/4.0 bottled) and Harbour Lager, a Czech-inspired Pilsner style lager (ABV 5.o draft/5.2 bottled). In about a year’s time, Harbour will also add a darker ale to their core range. What made my beer geeky mouth really water, however, were Eddie’s and Rhys’s plans for their Harbour Special range: limited-edition, seasonal beers where they can go wild with new ingredients and recipes. Their first Special just premiered at the National Winter Ale Festival, and it’s a dark ale at ABV 4.7 that has been aged on 20 kgs of Morello and Bing cherries.
Eddie: “We are planning our second special, NagaSake, at the moment. It’s made with Naga chillies and sake yeast. We’re not sure of the abv yet but it will be strong, dark and hot – Naga chilli hot! We generally come up with beer designs after a few jars, usually on trips to Cask or The White Horse, we say “I think this would be great with…”, and so on. We hope to do a special each month at least. Some will be for bottle only, some for keg only and some will be cask.”
The future plans also include a Double IPA (keg only), a rhubarb-and-ginger beer, and Harbour is experimenting with unusual ingredients like cassia bark, wormwood and bog myrtle. I detected a Swedish touch behind the bog myrtle: Myrica gale – also called sweet gale – is well known in Sweden as an akvavit spice, and it has in the past been used to spice beer as well (and old name for bog myrtle in Swedish is even skogshumle, literally “forest hops”!) and sure enough – Rhys’s partner Sara is Swedish, and also a brewer!
I asked Eddie how on earth you go about sourcing such exotic ingredients (given what I heard from Camden Town’s Mark D about their difficulties with acquiring bergamot fruit). Eddie: “As far as ingredient sourcing, it’s the last thing we (or at least Rhys) thinks of. We design the beer, then we figure out how we go about getting the ingredients. Some will be imported, others grown by specialist places in UK.”
Sounds pretty good, but how to get your hands on these brews if you’re in London? Initially Harbour Brewing beers will be mostly available in Cornwall, but they are apparently in touch with some specialist shops in London who are interested in carrying their wares. There’s also probably a London event at Cask somewhere on the horizon – so stay tuned. I for one am looking forward to some proper Cornish craft beers!