2016 has been an exciting year at Harbour HQ. We installed a new kit in January, moving from a 10bbl plant – with 140bbl of tank space – to a 30bbl plant with 400bbl of tank space. That expansion was supposed to see us through a few years of growth, but in August we reached capacity both mentally and physically! We had to reduce the varieties of beers we could offer, so we could keep up with demand on a few of our beers. It was never the plan, nor will it ever be, to be a single brand beer factory but we could see things moving that way and we could see our creativity and flexibility disappearing. So it was at that point that we started to plan our next phase of growth. Identifying that if we wanted to continue to grow and still have time and capacity to brew a full range of innovative and exciting beers we needed more space, tanks, equipment and people. We quickly worked out how we could make space, but knowing what equipment we needed isn’t as simple as it used to be. Should we invest in more tanks; a separator; upgrade the canning line? There were lots of questions and everyone seemed to have a different answer. We knew at that point it was the right time to bring in an experienced Head Brewer to help inform our decision making around capital investment and also to help us keep improving our recipes, processes and procedures. 2017 will see us, yet again, invest in a range of new equipment, what that is yet to be decided but the purpose of the new equipment is simple: To continue to improve our beer quality; to allow us more time to be creative; to brew a wider variety of beers and to continue to increase production output to meet demand.
It is with great pleasure that I can announce Stuart Howe has joined us in the role of Head Brewer. Stuart brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. I could go on for ages about the things he has achieved in the past, but what is the point? That is all history. It’s what we can achieve together in the future that is exciting! Stuart is as passionate about making great beer as anyone I have ever met, he has an unhealthy obsession with water chemistry, and the technical abilities to help us make world class beer. Our aim at Harbour has always been to make the best beer we can, beers that are exemplary versions of style, and that takes knowledge, passion and a meticulous eye for detail.
It is almost 5 years since we founded Harbour and the beer world has changed so much in that time, so we felt this was a perfect opportunity to reflect on where we are with our current beer offering. In early 2017 we’ll be launching a new range of 330ml cans and bottles, as well as revisiting our core range of cask beers. Many of our contemporaries have stopped producing cask beers for various reasons, but we feel that cask is the best dispense method for certain types of beer and as such it is an important part of what we do. We’ll be creating 4 new cask beers for our core range to replace the current offering. In addition, we will be designing a range of monthly specials to suit the season, these will be packaged in the format we feel best suits the style, so look forward to an array of cask, keg, bottle and canned beers throughout 2017.
Stuart will also be heading up our new project (so new it doesn’t have a name). The aim of the project is to develop our teams knowledge and passion around specific beer styles. They will research the history of the style, acknowledge outstanding versions, decipher the ideal flavour profile, and then look to brew a version with consummate elegance. By identifying the perfect ingredients, method and processes our version maybe a classic take on the style or an innovation of such. Stuart and his team of brewers will keep a blog of the whole process, and for those who have read Stuarts previous blog can be sure it will be both interesting and entertaining!
Having some extra hands around the brewery has also allowed us to brew our first seasonal beers for a while. We’ll soon be releasing Nicaraguan Coffee Stout. Brewed with our Cornish based friends Origin Coffee Roasters, using their Los Altos coffee sourced from the Mierisch Family on their Los Altos Farm in the Jinotega region of Nicaragua. Emily and Jesse from Origin joined us for an afternoon and brewed fresh ground coffee for us to add to the beer. Their handiwork created a bittersweet coffee with soft roasted flavours and notes of stone fruit and berries, which married beautifully with the Stout. The 5.2% beer will be available in cask from Mid-November. Another beer we will be releasing in Keg and Bottle in Mid-November is a 3.5% Raspberry and Vanilla Berliner Weisse. Our brewers have wanted to make this beer for ages but it is only recently we have been able to fit it in the schedule. It is our first kettle soured beer, made with the addition of Raspberry and Vanilla in the secondary. The result of the 50% Barley/50% wheat concoction is a tart hazy joy, which is the colour of Pink Lemonade. Imagine Raspberry Ripple ice cream in beer form.