We first became aware of Harbour Brewing not long after we’d moved to Cornwall in 2011.
New on the scene in 2011, they seemed to have more in common with BrewDog and Thornbridge than with Skinner’s or, say, Tintagel. OK, we’re being coy here: it was a Craft Brewery (definition 2), with aromatic IPA rather than best bitter front and fore – not something Cornwall really had before Harbour came along.
The company’s boss Eddie Lofthouse dropped off pre-release samples of IPA a few months after the brewery was founded and, frankly, they weren’t that exciting – not grim or shoddy, just not thrilling. And he knew it.
We remained lukewarm and cautious but were slowly won over – most of the way, anyway – by an excellent Pilsner on Scilly, a Beer-of-the-Year contender kegged pale ale in Falmouth, and numerous pints of straw-pale 3.7% Light Ale – the Cornish answer to London brewer Redemption’s Trinity.
The original head brewer, Heriot Watt trained Rhys Powell, left in 2015.
We still tend to qualify our praise – it’s hard for a Cornish brewery to top St Austell Proper Job, for example – but Eddie, either because he’s a diplomat or a genuinely nice bloke, or both, doesn’t seem to hold that against us, and agreed to a sort-of-interview by email. What follows was stitched together from an exchange of multiple messages with a couple of boring bits removed and some small edits for clarity and sense.
B&B: What’s your background and how did you come to be running a brewery?
I have a varied career history! From running youth work charities to managing bars and hotels. The latter lead me to gain a love of beer and the desire to work in the industry. A opportunity to start a little ‘hobby’ business arose while the hotel I was running was being refurbished and the idea went from there.
B&B: You’re called Harbour but the brewery is actually inland – what happened?
We initially looked at opening the brewery in Padstow but when we looked at the availability of suitable buildings in that area and the quality of the water we decided to widen our search. At the time I was living in Polzeath so searched for premises in that area. The agent we used to find us a facility alerted us to a site which had its own water springs with the water at the time being bottled as Cornish spring water. When we had the water analysed it was a perfect blank canvas to work with, and the building was perfect for us at that time. By the time we had finally decided to base ourselves in Kirland we had already settled on the name.