Last month I took a trip to Somerset and the Moor Beer Company Brewery, knowing how good Moor beer is I was really looking forward to seeing where it was made and meeting Justin Hawke the head brewer to talk about his beers.
The Moor Beer Company Brewery in it’s current incarnation is run by head brewer Justin Hawke, it is a 20 barrel plant with some new equipment recently installed including an in house bottling line – which certainly pleases me with my love of bottled beer. It has also meant that Moor can competitively produce their bottle conditioned beers and ship them around the world, including Europe, Asia Pacific and North America.
Talking to Justin he spoke about his passion for creativity in beer and how the brewing industry is a great one to be in, obviously people’s appreciation of the beer the Moor Beer Company produces is important to him and he recounted the occassion when an unfined version of So’hop beat the fined version to take beer of the festival at a beer festival – thus proving Moor’s point on leaving the yeast in!
Sadly Justin also spoke about the same challenges which seem to be facing the whole brewing industry – the overburden of taxes, the UK’s highest level of tax on alcohol in the world really makes it difficult for breweries to break even or become profitable. He also spoke of the media and their “doom and gloom austerity” outlook and how it has had a damaging effect, people are not going out as often to pubs which puts a double squeeze on the brewer – however luckily Moor’s focus on quality has meant that they have kept up in a troublesome market.
Moor Beer Company brands itself as a luxary comodity, Justin says that “Moor is quality from the ground up” using the best quality malt and hops sourced from wherever they are produced. This coupled with the strong Moor Beer branding including larger styled bottles, glasses selected for their suitability in displaying the beer and the stylish laser etched pump clips gives Moor Beer Company a standout character. It also means that the name is associated with the quality of the beer and those that know Moor Beer will often select it by name.
Most breweries will tell you that they are “different” or “going against the grain” and although often admirable in their efforts, few are actually pioneering in their brewing. Moor would be the exception, not only pioneering highly flavoursome beers and some really wikid hopping, but also making unfined beer.
Finings are substances added to beer near the end of brewing, they coagulate (clump up) the yeast proteins allowing them to settle out of the beer. Unfined beer omits these, leaving the yeasts in the beer, this gives a hazy look to the beer but the sediment is completely harmless.
For many the association of cloudy or even slightly hazy beer with bad beer is something which they find hard to shake, but these people are missing out. Moor beer is highly flavoursome, leaving the yeast proteins in the beer gives the brewer another string to their bow in terms of beer flavours. It also seems to allow lower ABV beers to have much more pronounced flavours.
I am often surprised with Moor beer when I look at the ABV and realise that it is usually 1% below what I would have expected considering the flavour.
And you do not have to take just my word for it, since they started brewing Moor Beer Company have been winning awards both locally and nationally, with multiple SIBA gold awards included in their haul. They have won awards for both their bottled beer and draught beers and I am sure that the rate will reduce.
So onto the beers:
Moor Beer Company also produce a range of specialty and seasonal beers, including a sloe beer, my favourite Nor’Hop and Fusion – a beer conditioned in Somerset cider barrels.
If you want to try a beer by Moor Beer Company then you can find a list of pubs which have it on tap along with a list of retailers where you can buy their bottled beer on their website.