Harveys ale named after Copper family from Peacehaven

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England’s most important traditional folk singer Bob Copper, who lived in Peacehaven, has been commemorated by Harveys Brewery with Copper Ale.

Folk singer Shirley Collins, who lives locally, wrote to the Lewes brewery asking it to create a special beer for Bob’s centenary.

Copper family singing as Copper ale brewed at Harveys in Lewes.

Copper family singing as Copper ale brewed at Harveys in Lewes.

And the members of the Copper family were at Harveys this week to watch as Copper Ale began to brew.

In her letter to Harveys Shirley said: “I know that the creation of a Harveys special brew for Bob would delight his family, whose approval I have to write this letter, and a great many more people besides, and would be a most fitting tribute to this modest Sussex man, but a hero to many, many people.”

Bob collected and recorded many local folk songs, preserving the tunes and lyrics, but ensuring the style in which they were sung remained true to his forefathers.

He produced a number of recorded collections and published several books, including his award winning A Song For Every Season (1971).

He died a few days after receiving an MBE in 2004.

Originally from Rottingdean, the majority of the family now live in Peacehaven.

Harveys started to brew Copper Ale on the exact day of Bob’s birth, Tuesday January 6.

It was brewed in the presence of members of the Copper family, who sang ‘Oh Good Ale’ around the mash tun.

The beer will be sold at the Bob Copper Centenary Event at Cecil Sharp House in London on January 24 which features an all day celebration of his work.

Harveys head brewer Miles Jenner said: “It is an honour for Harveys to be marking the centenary of this remarkable man in a manner which would have given him tremendous pleasure.

“Hopefully, it will meet with the approval of all those who hold him in such high esteem and be a worthy tribute to his name.

“As well as being Copper in name, the beer will be copper in colour and, appropriately, will have passed through our ‘brewing copper’.”

In an email to the brewery, Bob’s son-in-law John Dudley added: “Just to say what a splendid idea this Bob Copper Ale is. Thank you so much.

“We are all absolutely thrilled. To say that Bob was a champion of Harveys is rather an understatement.

“He often walked from his home in north Peacehaven to The Ram at Firle (well into his 80s) where he would imbibe four pints of Harveys Best; this led him to declare that he was a 30 miles to the gallon man, it being 7 1/2 miles there and 7 1/2 miles home.”