Hiver beer is a unique honey beer created by entrepreneurial brewer Hannah Rhodes a 30-year-old who was inspired by London’s urban beekeepers. Having just been awarded the accolade of the Ocado campaign Britain’s Next Top Supplier, we catch up with Hannah to discuss her unique brew.
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Hannah learned her craft at meantime Brewery before launching Hiver in 2013. “That’s really where my passion for good quality beer and understanding a variety of beer styles came from. They let me loose on a few projects that now seem pretty invaluable to getting the business side of Hiver. I also worked for the fantastic Frobishers Juices,” she explains, “It was an important lesson in quality in terms of sourcing and method, which is a big part of Hiver.”
Hannah was inspired to create Hiver beer by the urban beekeepers in London. “After attending a great course ‘An introduction to Bees’ by the London Honey Company, I took it a bit further and joined the London Beekeepers Association www.lbka.org.uk with the view of having a beehive of my own. I’ve worked with beer for many years and suddenly realised that I knew nothing about honey beer as a style. Once I started reading up on the traditions and realised that the other honey beers weren’t the beer that I had in my head, the decision was made.”
Hiver’s unique flavour and character come from the inclusion of real honey. “It’s a proper honey beer, where the honey is used as an ingredient (rather than a flavouring) and the honey is sourced from independent beekeepers. The recipe was developed to showcase great honey through a quality craft beer.”
“There are three honeys that make up 20% of the ingredients in Hiver (the rest being speciality malts and hops as you’d expect). London honey from urban hives, English Blossom honey and some Yorkshire Heather honey, which is nice for me as I’m from Hull originally.” These blends lend Hiver beer its distinct taste and the award-winning quality that Ocado praised.
Bees are essential to our food cycle, which is something Hannah is proud to be a part of. She has also revived long forgotten methods of brewing. “Traditionally people would have used honey in brewing and fermenting to add flavour, aroma and an extra kick to their festivities,” she explains. “Hiver isn’t pasteurized, which is why you can smell the natural raw honey and malts without the beer being sweet.”
At the beginning of 2014 Ocado launched their Britain’s Next Top Supplier competition, which Hiver beer subsequently won. “I genuinely never thought that Hiver would win so there was a real X-Factor teary moment when I found out. I was surprised how much it meant to get the nod of approval from people like Tom Kerridge, Sir Stuart Rose and the Senior team at Ocado. They all commented on the quality and easy drinking nature of the beer – it’s such a relief when people ‘get it’.”
With a new 10k marketing package awarded to Hiver by Ocado, the brew available nationwide and pubs lining up to stock the honey beer, this one-woman enterprise isn’t resting on its laurels with test brews in the pipline for the next beer already.
She has however managed one afternoon off to raise a glass to her success as she was “invited for lunch by Tom Kerridge at the Hand and Flowers…what a way to celebrate!”