Hiver was founded by Hannah Rhodes in 2013, who ran a stall at Maltby Street market before setting up Hiver’s headquarters, or Hivequarters, with a taproom and shop in a railway arch on Stanworth Street on the famous Bermondsey Beer Mile. The company was named Independent Retailer of the Year at the Southwark Business Awards in 2019.
Hannah’s passion for craft beer and her admiration for the work of London’s urban beekeepers combined to inspire her to found Hiver. She explains: “I worked at a microbrewery for a while after I first moved to London from Hull, which helped me learn about different styles of beer and how crucial it is to use quality ingredients. You can get really good honey in London from hives in allotments, and on rooftops because it’s such a tree-heavy city, which is great for bees, so I started trialling some brews using honey for the fermentation process.
“Bees are critical to our planet’s ecosystem and beekeepers in the UK face huge challenges in maintaining healthy hives and healthy businesses. When I started Hiver, I wanted to combine a quality product with a truly sustainable business that directly contributes to the health of the planet, so tying our sustainability credentials directly to our product was crucial. Our goal of producing the best honey beer on the market goes hand-in-hand with supporting independent Beekeepers and sustaining healthy British bee populations. We really wanted to get under the skin of what they needed and how best to support them.” The company sources all of its ingredients, packaging and stationery from sustainable UK sources, including buying raw honey from local apiaries.
Hiver supports pollinator charities and planting days, including social enterprise Bee Urban which runs community gardens and helps to manage bees at apiaries on housing estates, rooftops and in allotments across London. They also sponsor hives at Camden’s Roundhouse performing arts venue alongside Bermondsey Street Bees.
Educating consumers about the importance of sustaining healthy bee populations is key to Hiver’s success. They work in partnership with Bee Urban to run two-hour urban beekeeping and craft beer tasting experiences, where customers can learn how Beekeepers care for their hives, see the process of honey harvesting and then enjoy a tutored beer and food matching session that showcases the honey beers it produces.
Hiver’s community links are extensive and form an important part of the business’ identity. Hannah said: “We’re really lucky to be able to tap into local expertise and to be in a position to support local people through our partnerships. We’re excited to be working with the City and Guilds Art School in Kennington Park to support the development of hands-on skills, like stonemasonry and sculpting through the launch of our new beer, Fabal (which means craftsperson), and getting some of the artists at the School involved in the development of the brand.” Fabal launched in March 2020 and is an artisan English lager that is the first in the UK to use pressed barleys, which are steamed and rolled rather than roasted.
Being part of a community of brewers and other independent businesses located along the Beer Mile has also been a crucial element of Hiver’s development. Hannah said: “Bermondsey is a great food and drink community, not just a beer community, with lots of different businesses that complement each other. Each small business located on the mile offers something different and everyone has a unique approach to running their business, so customers visiting our arches get to explore a wide range of styles – that’s the magic of this community. We’re also mindful of the need to be respectful to local residents and we’re increasingly working as a group to do more to engage with the local community so that we can realise the benefits of the mile together.”
Hiver’s award-winning beers are available in Sainsburys, Waitrose, M&S, Selfridges and a host of independent off-licences across the country.
56 Stanworth St, Bermondsey, London