Harveys Brewery Tour. By-word for a great day out in Sussex

Harveys Brewery – Lewes

Harvey’s Brewery is the oldest independent brewery in Sussex. A family business, the brewery has been in the guardianship of seven generations of John Harvey’s descendants since 1790, with five family members from the seventh and eighth generations currently working here.

Its brewing heritage began in the time of George III, William Blake and Jane Austen, and in Lewes, a rebellious little town nestled in the Sussex Downs. The family originated from London, but records of the 1790’s recall the delivery of Old Red Port, Sherry and Claret in Lewes and its surrounding villages.

John Harvey started brewing as a seasonal side-line activity in Bear Yard, opposite the current brewery, by about 1820. Brewing would have been a natural extension of his business. There were five other breweries operating in Lewes at the time.

By the 1920s, the Company was heavily mortgaged and its few pubs were in a poor state of repair. At the time of its incorporation in 1928; Alice, Elsie and Nora, three of John Maxfield-Smith’s daughters, were running Harvey’s Brewery. Alice May Harvey-Smith was the firm’s first Chairperson in 1929. It was she and her sisters who decided to make two crucial appointments that ultimately lead to Harvey’s survival and long-term prosperity.

One other sister, Beatrice Harvey-Smith, had married a doctor and talented musician from Kent, Frank Carlyon-Rundle. Their only son Eric had recently returned from India and joined the company. Then, in the late 1930s, his Aunt May (Alice) decided to interview some technical brewers and a newly qualified young brewer called Anthony A. Jenner was hired.

It was these two men who were to strike up a lasting business relationship which over the course of the next 40 years gradually took the firm out of debt, repaired the pubs, brewed award-winning beers and developed a respected reputation throughout the local community.

To visit Harvey’s brewery in Lewes by coach contact Holt Services