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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!

Kimberley Classic 4.8% Abstinence 3.6% Angry Trout 4.5% Artist's Ale 4.8% Belfry Bat 3.9%
Best Bitter 3.9% Best Mild (og 1035.4) Brew XI 4.5% Crazy Crow 4.1% Crowing Cock 4.2%
Cursed Galleon 5.0% Druid's Droop 5.0% Fatal Distraction 4.5% Friar's Fancy 4.4% Frolicking Farmer 4.2%
Golden Goose 4.4% Grasshopper Pale Ale 3.6% Guinea Gold 4.5% Gunpowder Plot 5.0% Gunpowder Strong Ale 5.0%
Hanson's Strong Pale Ale 5.0% Hardy's Gunpowder Ale 5.0% HBM 4.5% Mild 3.1% Millram Ale 4.0%
Old Kim 4.5% Olde Trip Ale 4.3% Original Gravity 4.1% Peak Perfection 4.1% Peddler's Pride 4.3%
PMA (og 1035.6) Raging Rooster 4.2% Refectory Ale 4.0% Rocking Rudolph 5.0% Scallywag
Spring Hop 4.4% Starbright 5.0% Summer Ale 4.6% Swallow's Return 4.1% Unity 4.5%
Vallum 3.6% Vintage 1832 4.6% Willam Clark's Ale 6.0% William Clark's Declaration 4.8% Ye Olde Trip Ale 4.8%

 

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?

Hardy & Hansons Bitter...

3.9% ABV A brew with an excellent balance of sweetness and bitterness that combines with a subtle hop character, a distinctive beer with a full and satisfying finish.

 

 

Olde Trip...

4.3% ABV A rich toffee flavoured beer bursting with fruity character, this premium ale is perfectly balanced with a clean bitter finish. This beer takes its name is from the world famous 'Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem Inn' which lays claim to being England's oldest Inn. Carved into the sandstone rock at the foot of Nottingham Castle, the Inn was reputed to be a favoured resting place and 'watering hole' for the brave knights who rallied to the call of King Richard The Lionheart to join The Third Crusade to the Holy Land.

 

The pix...

Below you can view the best of the photographs which we took at this site. If you wish to view any of these pictures in a much larger size then click on the thumbnail of your choice and it will open a full size picture in a secondary window...

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The bottom end of the brewery site.

 
Inside now, no time for exterior shoots as it was a bit of a rushed "get in"!
 
A strange lifting machine over in the corner with a chain of little scuttles running on a conveyor system.
 
Although the tail of the Y is gone it's obvious what the name of the brewery was!
 
Wooden partitions everywhere on this floor give a lovely warm feel even though the place has been empty more than 12 months.
 
A wood work shop with forced ventilation to pull away saw dust in the air.
 
Our first malt barrow!


 

A galvanised hopper on iron banded, wooden wheels. Simple but effective.

 

I wonder if they still exist as a business? We found an ad for their products in the London Gazette from 1877 and they were actually called W C Woolnough and Company Ltd. - CLICK HERE
 

Off we go to the upper floor.
 
A screw thread for dragging hops or malt up from floor to floor.
 
Is this a malting room?
 
M frames up a through the window pic...
 
...and here it is!
 
Or was it this one?
 
Vent fan pics are hard to take 'cos the blades won't sit still!

 
Another malt barrow - strike a pose TJ!

 

This odd bladed thing runs along the floor in the runners on either wall turning the malt to prevent it from going mouldy.
 

You can see the runners along which the rotor runs.

 

Another strange machine which again we think was used for turning the malt.
 

A really photogenic ceiling but the pin point of light shows the slates are slipping and soon the decay will set in.
 

Moving on we are about to enter another one of those low, pillared halls.
 

There were several of these halls.

 

The weather outside looks grim but it had stopped raining by the time we got in.
 

In fact it was actually getting quite sunny!
 
Down into one of the yards just behind the main road.
 
Stair porn rustic style!
 
Another malt barrow and a hop sack.
 
The pulley wheels from some sort of hoist.
 
I think this pours the barley on to the malting room floor.
 
Part of a screw hoist up in the loft space.
 
Lovely wooden stairs!
 
Hoist motor.
 

The brewery owned several pubs and this is the sign for just one of them...
 

...and another!

 
The haze is accidental but we thought it looked nice!

 

Up in a room towards the top of the building we found these machines.
 

Lovely precision mechanics!

 
Mechanical porn!

 
What this did we have no idea but it looks groovy!
 
From the top now!
 
The electrical control gear for the machines.
 
I love how Bob The Builder this signage is!
 
Machine electrical cut outs.
 
Another hoist over a hatch in the floor.
 
The hoist motor.

 

The safety harness shows there was a drop risk hereabouts- look at the floor...
 

TJ posing by the hatch in another hoisting area.

 
The long drop!
 
One hatch open now...
 
Hoisting limits.
 
Oooo errrr Matron! Fnaaar fnaar!
 
Pigeon sh*t central now!
 
Photography from on high.
 

We will leave PS Central and go on to a room where big tanks came through the floors. Presumably brewing vessels.
 

But not before TJ snaps me on my precarious perch!

 

The brewing vessels are gone, presumably for copper scrap or to be re-used at Greene King, the new owners of Hardy & Hanson.
 

Last look before moving on.
 
Another brewing room?
 
It certainly held a large tank.
 
An open door to the world below.
 
The brewery yard...
 
...and again.
 
A strange language understood only by brewers!

 

More evidence of an area of multi-storey tanks that have since been removed.
 

A neat little trolley by another door to the outside world.

 
This area housed large tanks for storing sugar.
 
Signage for the bulk sugar storage.
 
The sugar store was tiled so that it could be easily cleaned.
 

Control of valves to allow the passage of the boiling wort out of the brewing vessels.
 

The electrics have begun to be scavenged for copper scrap.

 

Rust streaks caused by condensation add a surprising splash of orange against the sterile white and blue paintwork.
 

Ground floor workshop.
 
A ventilator?
 
Chemicals stored near the workshop.
 
Control gear read outs.
 
Some form of tachograph?
 
Ah... these I understand! :-)
 

T found some interesting reports in a cabinet - this is a water purity for the well which showed excess nickel.
 

...and an asbestos survey which indicated some problems!

 
Off to the cellars in search of the well...

 
...and here it is!

 
I love gloomy areas with shafts of light!

 

This tunnel runs up to the yard and would have had a conveyor belt on it at one time.
 

This was the official room for having a piss up in a brewery!
 
Agar culture for testing for bacteria etc. in the lab.
 
Switch gear in the loading garage area.
 

 

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