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There's nothing quite like drinking the right beer at the right time. And with the wintry evenings once more settling about us and a hint of gunpowder on the breeze, what could be better than a dark British ale with its own hint of smoke to warm you as you sit by a fire?
Bonfire Boy, from Harvey's brewery in Lewes, is a seasonal beer that you will only find on draught during the month of November. "The rationale behind doing seasonal brews for one month only was that they couldn't dwindle," explains Harvey's legendary head brewer, Miles Jenner.
"People waited for them to come along, they drank them in prime condition, we sold out and we moved on to the next one. You've got to have it in peak condition for that month so that people are looking forward to it the following year."
Bonfire Boy was originally called Firecracker and was brewed as a tribute to the fire services who had extinguished an enormous conflagration that consumed the brewery's offices and shop in 1996. "Firecracker seemed a good name. It was a double entendre as far they'd extinguished the fire and it was a firework." But a few years and one trademark dispute later it became Bonfire Boy. "The name is given to people who march in the processions, they're Bonfire Boys and Girls. And there was one section who actually dressed as Victorian firemen, so it all worked quite well. We had Bonfire Boy with a picture of the guy in his Victorian fire brigade outfit and it was far more pertinent really than Firecracker, so I was quite pleased. It gave me an opportunity to celebrate the future rather than looking back to a fire in the past."
The beer itself is slightly sweet but also burnt and smoky. "We're using a good percentage of crystal malt and some black malt to give it a burnt quality but hopefully not too acrid. [It has] a rounded, very full malty palate with the slight sort of burnt quality in the background."
The hops used are a mixture of traditional British aroma varieties: Fuggles, Goldings, Progress and Bramling Cross. Combined these will give aromas that are grassy, minty, earthy and spicy along with honey and blackcurrant.
It's good with all sorts of food but particularly the sort you might eat around a bonfire: sausages, baked potatoes, anything with a hint of char. Try it with a toffee apple while watching some fireworks.
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