I Hart beer
I like beer. Not pints and pints of it, but those little third of a pint glasses, you know the ones, you get them in craft beer pubs in a taster paddle with three drinks in the hole (a kind of beer tapas, if you will). Beer and I became better acquainted after I became features editor on a magazine called Off-Licence News; it was difficult (nigh on impossible) not to try the offerings on display, and over the last few years as the craft beer industry (or is it indie beer now?) has really taken off, well, it would have been rude not to.
It’s quite handy then, that Hart Brewery is just a hop, skip and a jump from Muddy Towers. My keen snout sniffed it out not long after it opened a few years ago, and Mr. Muddy and I have made it over on numerous occasions to peruse the wears.
It’s a small, but perfectly formed brewery, which resides at Nene Court (more on that wonderful little retail outlet in future Muddy posts). It’s a really cool Georgian building, a nod to Britain’s industrial past, and as the story goes, was built in 1833, when William IV was on the throne and beer was the drink of choice. It was actually part of the development that brought municipal street lights to the town of Wellingborough (I just love a bit of local history, although it promptly seeps out of my brain like a leaking tap).
It’s a working brewery, but opens six days a week selling beer, wine and its own gin (which incidentally, is one of the best Muddy has ever tasted, ahem, at 11am on a Monday morning). Because being the intrepid explorer that I am, I accepted the founder of Hart Brewery, Rob Hart’s invitation to go and spend a day brewing beer (and sipping gin)!
Which is how I found myself up a ladder on a cold winter’s morning stirring hops into a vat of boiling hot liquid. Rob talked me through the whole process with the passion of a man who truly loves what he does (he used to be a wine buyer for The Man, but now he is the The Man, and much prefers working for himself).
If you’re in the area I’d really urge you to pop along. The beers are top tasty and you definitely won’t leave empty handed (I departed, bottle laden, then matched up a few chosen beers with my dinners). But Hart is not just to shop! You can also see what a small brewery looks like and ask learned Rob any questions (seriously, the man was like a chemistry/biology/physics Mastermind contestant – but more smiley).
As a journo, I’ve interviewed many a business over the years, and one of the things I love about visiting small, independent oulets like Hart, is the almost tangible passion people have for what they do; and Rob, and his wife Sarah, have it in keg loads! Not only a passion for producing beers, but also sourcing UK produce and supporting the local business community wherever possible (we ordered in home cooked Jamaican food for lunch from Jamrock, another fantastic local business we’ll cover soon).
Faced with a line-up of homogenous beer brands on a supermarket shelf, it does feel like you’re doing something good buying from Rob and Sarah, and on top of brewing and selling their own beer, they have a nice little line of affordable wines (which reflect Rob’s years in the wine buying trade.) Speaking of which, they host a number of wine tasting evenings and several ‘pop up pubs’ each year, with carefully selected local companies showcasing their produce and wares alongside local music acts (I’ve been to a couple, managed to lock myself in the portaloo, but other than that, a resounding success).
If you like beer, wine, or buying quality produce from local independents, get yourself along to Hart Brewery, I guarantee you’ll leave with a smile on your face (and the faint whiff of a taster beer you’ve been given by Rob to whet your appetite ; )
Hart Family Brewers, The 1833 Brewery, 21 Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, NN8 1LD