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'When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves. For you will have lost the last of England.'
- Hilaire Belloc

Bonfire boys and girls with pints of Harveys supporting the Friends of the Lewes Arms campaign

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October 2006, November 2006, December 2006

BBC NewsBBC News Logo
Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Campaign lost to save local ale

Harveys Best Bitter will no longer be served at The Lewes Arms
A campaign to prevent a locally-brewed ale being withdrawn from an East Sussex pub has ended in failure.
Greene King, the Suffolk-based pub group which owns The Lewes Arms, said in October that it planned to replace Harveys Best Bitter with its own beer.

Lewes MP Norman Baker won two reprieves for the bitter over the past month, but it was finally taken out of the pub at the weekend.

Drinkers set up a campaign blog on the internet to save their favourite beer.


Greene King had said it wanted to "serve our own award-winning quality ales in our own pubs", but the Friends of The Lewes Arms pressure group wrote to the firm and Harveys Brewery pleading for a compromise.

But a joint statement said: "A number of trading options were presented in an effort to preserve the status quo at The Lewes Arms while maintaining the integrity of both companies.

"Sadly, none proved acceptable in a wider context."

Writers on the protesters' blog threatened a boycott of The Lewes Arms if the bitter was withdrawn.

Harveys previously said it had been "touched by the loyalty" of drinkers at the 220-year-old pub.

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BBC News
Wednesday, 1 November

Greene King boss faces a roasting

The boss of the Greene King brewery could have his effigy burnt with that of Guy Fawkes this Sunday as a row with drinkers at a Sussex pub escalates.
Lewes Arms regular are campaigning against the Suffolk-based brewery, which wants to withdraw locally-brewed Harveys Best Bitter from the pub.

They have been backed by the mayor of the town and local MP Norman Baker.

Lewes' famous bonfire societies are now set to lend their support and give Greene King a roasting on 4 November.

Such a gesture would be in keeping with the traditions of the quirky 220-year-old pub, which has built up a reputation for hosting activities including the Annual World Pea-Throwing Championship and Dwyle Flunking, a traditional game involving two teams, a broom stick, a chamber pot and a beer-soaked rag.

Their ire was first raised at the beginning of October when the pub informed them that Harveys would be withdrawn by the end of the year.

"It was only a month ago, but the campaign got going very quickly," said Jack Wilkinson, a regular at the Lewes Arms.

A pressure group, the Friends of the Lewes Arms, has written to Greene King and Harveys trying to arrange some form of compromise agreement that might see its favourite real ale kept on tap.

Previously, Greene King has held firm, saying it wants "to serve our own award-winning quality ales in our own pubs".

However, the drinks distributor supplying the Lewes Arms said it hadn't received any instructions to stop delivering Harveys Best Bitter and Greene King has now said it is preparing a new statement on the issue.

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BBC News
Thursday, 12 October 2006

Protesters demanding local beer

Campaigners said most drinks sold in the pub are made by Harveys
A brewer's decision to stop a pub selling a locally-produced beer has led to a petition being organised in Lewes and a public meeting.
Pub group and brewer Greene King owns the Lewes Arms in the East Sussex town.

The Suffolk-based firm said it would stop serving Harveys beer, which is made in Lewes, at Christmas, replacing it with its own beer.

Greene King said it was committed to ensuring its pubs had a range of ales. Regulars said they would go elsewhere.

John May, a campaigner and a regular at the pub, said: "About 80% of the drink sold in the Lewes Arms probably is Harveys.

"The majority of people will go elsewhere and the pub will lose its community, which is in this day and age is very important."

We are very touched by their loyalty

Miles Jenner, Harveys

Greene King operations director Kris Gumbrell said: "We are committed to all our pubs having a great range of cask ales, and of course you'd expect us to want to serve our own award-winning quality ales in our own pubs.

"We are very proud of our premium beers and we are confident that our fine selection of ales and our plans for further investment in the pub will enable our customers to continue to enjoy the warm welcome offered by the Lewes Arms."

Miles Jenner, managing director of Harveys Brewery, said: "Greene King have owned the freehold of the pub for the past 10 years and can stipulate what beers they wish to sell there.

"While their Bury St Edmunds ales are extremely good, it appears that customers at Lewes Arms prefer to drink local beers which we have produced in Lewes.

"We are very touched by their loyalty."

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