A little bit of the history of Kimberley Brewery...
The Kimberley Brewery was established and operated by the brewer Hardys & Hansons, and has a heritage dating from 1832. It was, at the time of closure, the oldest independent brewery in Nottinghamshire. Samuel Robinson opened the first commercial brewery in Kimberley, Nottinghamshire, England, in a rented bake-house using water from the Alley Spring in what is now called Hardy Street. Stephen Hanson meanwhile built Hansons Limited on Brewery Street in 1847, also using water from the Alley Spring. William & Thomas Hardy were successful beer merchants from Heanor who bought Samuel Robinsons brewery in 1857.
The brewery complex which remains today is largely based on the buildings erected by the Hardy brothers in 1861 when they moved out of the old bake-house. In the same year, Stephen Hanson died and his business was carried on by his wife Mary and son Robert. There was much friendly rivalry between the two brewing companies who proceeded to buy pubs throughout the area to supply with their own ales.
Both breweries began to run short of water and so by mutual agreement the water from the local Holly Well spring was shared between them. Having been attracted by the supply of excellent brewing water from the Holly Well, both breweries thrived independently until 1930, when under increasing pressure from larger brewing companies, and from a lack of male successors to the Hardy's Brewery, the two companies combined.
In 2006, The Hardys & Hansons Kimberley Brewery and all of its public houses were sold in a multi-million pound deal to Greene King brewery, who decided to end the brewing tradition in Kimberley in "a cost effective move" and then sell the Kimberley site. They moved the distribution centre to Eastwood and the continued brewing of a limited number of their beers moved to the main Greene King site at Bury St Edmunds. In December 2010 the site was bought by the Leicester-based Alif Group ahead of an auction due to take place; paying more than the auction guide price of £1.25million, the brewery site having originally been valued at the time of the sale to Greene King at £5 -6 millions. Alif Group are a bathroom wholesaler so it is likely that the site will be used as a store for their products.
Throughout the years H&H have produced many different beers, the following being a fairly thorough list, but by no means the definitive catalogue!
Sadly since Greene King took over the production of Hardy & Hanson's beers only two brews have survived and I imagine that they will not be exactly the same as the original beers - lets face it, the simple act of moving production 135 miles to a completely different part of the country must affect the end taste of the product somewhat if only because the nature of the water differs, even over just a few miles. It may seem odd to think that something as simple as the route that precipitated rainwater takes through the ground to the point at which it is drawn will alter the taste of the beer so radically. But it does. The chemicals the rain water dissolves, especially when passing through substrates like chalk or limestone when calcium carbonate is rapidly picked up, are a major factor - even the home brewer attempting to create a beer which is a copy of a commercial offering will add a cocktail of basic salts to his local water in order to bring it closer to the water from the area where the beer he is copying originated. If you are sceptical then just consider the phenomenon of lime scale in kettles! Anyway, all things considered, Greene King don't produce a bad beer and even taking into account their considerable size as a business and all the negatives that usually entails, their output has always been most agreeable fair!
So... Hardy & Hanson in name, Greene King in the making, what's left today?