Interview with Hiver Beers Founder

Hiver Beers

We had the pleasure of meeting Hannah Rhodes, founder of Hiver Beers and inventor of The Honey Beer, at the Harviestoun Brewery’s tap takeover and tasting at the Draft House in Seething Lane.

Hiver Beers is a super new company formed earlier this year by Hannah through the passion for Beekeeping and beer. They use honey from both urban and rural bees for their brew and donate 10% of profits to pollinator charities and urban space development projects. We asked Hannah a few questions and she gave us some fantastic answers:

What inspired you to start Hiver Beers?
Finding myself Beekeeping on the roof of the Tate Britain last Winter was a really special moment for me and although I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, I knew that I really wanted to do something that was related to Beekeeping and that used this fantastic product (London Honey) in some way. Being a bit of a beer geek it didn’t take too long before I was playing about with Honey Beer recipes and after testing out the idea and trial brews on friends, I decided that you’re only here once and to go for it. Although it’s early days I’m loving having my own beer at last and that I can be totally absorbed in my two passions – Beer and Bees!

What’s the best experience you’ve had getting involved in the beer industry?
Crikey, there have been some fantastic highlights and it’s such a friendly industry to work in. Working at Meantime Brewery in the early days was a real treat and I learnt so much from the experience there, not just about beer and the type of beer I enjoy but also about how a small business works too. Without a doubt though creating Hiver has been incredible. Having a beer that exists only in your head and then going about developing a recipe and trial brewing until you finally manage to get to where you want with the taste and flavour – it’s a fantastic experience and all the more rewarding that it takes time and patience!

Where is/will the beer be available?
The beer is available through Liberty Wines and is now stocked in about 30 bars, restaurants and bottle shops in London and the SouthEast including Selfridges, which you can find via the In a Pub website or app inapub by just typing in your postcode!

What’s your favourite beer and favourite brewery? (Besides Hiver, of course)
My favorite beer ever has to be Duchesse du Bourgogne which I tried for the first time at a Beer Academy tasting but it really depends on my mood and the weather…a belgian blonde, barrel aged porter or a malty red ale would be my go tos! My favourite brewery at the moment has to be the Little Beer Corporation which I tried at a Real Ales Tasting in Twickenham. Great beers and great ethos. Warm feelings all around!

What do you think of the craft beer/real ale scene at the moment?
I think it’s amazing. All this interest in taste and flavour through beer is so wonderful to see, even though it’s only a few years ago it used to be really hard to get a bar to stock any kind of Micro-brewed beer and now it feels like it’s almost the norm. And as a result, all these new breweries and businesses are supporting the local community and economy.

Do you have any advice for homebrewers on how to craft a great beer?
I find that really reading up on a beer style and it’s history helps me focus in on the crunch points. With Hiver I knew I wanted to showcase the honey and I soon realized that an ale yeast would only compete with the subtle honey flavours rather than support. So I read up on lots of Belgian blonde recipes (I thought this would be a good base) and spoke to a few master brewers for tips.There was a lot of learning through trial brews and I’d say stick with it, it’s never going to be right first time but it’s so rewarding when you get to the beer that you had in your head! Although I’m biased, I feel like we (Hepworth Brewery and I) have managed to do something different with Hiver.

Is there anything in the Hiver calendar coming up that people who are interested should know about and can attend to get their hands on your beer?
Absolutely, I’ve been posting events and tastings on facebook.com/hiverbeers and @hiverbeers on twitter. There’ll be a few events confirmed in the next week or two. Hiver is also entered for the Honey Beer category at the National Honey show….fingers crossed!

How can people find out more about Hiver and your beers?
The facebook and twitter sites are the best bet and a website will be launched in the coming weeks. But this youtube review has to be my absolute favourite way to get an inkling of what Hiver tastes like. I just want to give him a massive squeeze as it’s exactly how I hoped the beer would be received!

What else can we expect from Hiver in the future?
I’m in the middle of trial brews for two more flavours at the moment and I’d love to do some small batch fun stuff down the line. On 10th November we’ll be helping the London Beekeepers Association by helping to plant crocus bulbs on mass. The decline of wildflowers is a major issue for Bees and we’ll be thrilled to be able to support. Come down and help, I’ll be putting some beers on to keep everyone going.

We want to take this opportunity to throw another  massive thanks Hannah’s way. We hope this interview has gotten you as excited about Hiver Beers (and urban beekeeping in general, tending on the Tate sounds awesome) as it has us, and make sure you hit them up on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest. We think Hiver is one to keep an eye on in the future – great beer, great people behind it and a simply brilliant addition to the beer community.

Drop us some thoughts!