beer reviews Somerset

General brilliance, specific problems

Moor Illusion black IPA

By Bailey

My little brother lives in Bristol, a city increasingly awash with interesting beer. Though he’s teetotal, he’s geek enough by nature to have absorbed a certain amount of knowledge about beer from us and from friends, which is why, when he saw a selection of bottles from Moor in a butcher’s shop, an alarm bell rang and he decided to grab one of each available as a Christmas gift for me. (At considerable expense, I gather.)

On opening the package, I beamed. Just as with Butcombe, I can’t help feeling warm towards a brewery from the Shire; and we’ve generally found Moor’s beers to be exciting and interesting, if not always consistent.

Merlin’s Magic (4.7%), a super-hoppy ‘take’ on best bitter, saw me through the helping-Mum-get-things-down-from-high-shelves, pre-dinner milling about phase of Christmas Day. It had zing beyond zing, cutting through the effects of a morning nibbling chocolate with lemon-rind, herbal dryness. As the extended family turned up, everyone insisted on a taste. “Too bitter!” they all said, before layers of complexity hit them and their eyebrows rose upward. “Ooh… nice though.”

Illusion (4.7%) came towards the end of the meal, before desert. It still doesn’t help explain how black IPA is distinct from other types of beer (a hoppy porter, in this case, I think) but did march confidently over duck fat, gravy and English mustard. More zing. Fireworks, in fact. My beer-hating Auntie liked it, too, much to everyone’s amazement. I wanted several more.

Finally, however, a dud: Moor Amoor (also 4.7%, I think, though the website disagrees). A murky, reddish brown rather than the black I’d been expecting from the word porter on the label, its smell was really offputting: I Couldn’t Believe It Wasn’t Butter. Though there was something nutty to enjoy in the taste, overall, I’d rather, honestly, have had a can of Bass or bottle of Guinness. Quality control problems?

At any rate, from our perspective, that last beer is the answer to this question from Simon Johnson:

Or, indeed, to a similar question we asked ourselves back in 2008, when we were only little, and enjoyed an earlier iteration of Amoor under the name Peat Porter.

4 replies on “General brilliance, specific problems”

Moor is a brewery I’d like to try more of but always find it difficult to justify the price tag, as wherever I’ve seen them the bottles all seem to start at £4 (for the session-strength stuff). Now I’m willing to pay (more than) £4 for a beer, but if it’s costing that much for a session-strength bitter I can’t help but think that the brewery needs to try a little harder in making their beers more competitively priced.

Reasonably priced draught beers, though — at least on the rare occasions we’ve seen them — and the bottles are 660ml, which sweetens the pill. The session-strength beers don’t taste remotely ‘sessiony’, either — very intense flavour.

Yeah I keep hoping to find them on draft but very rarely do.

I did think the bottles were 500ml, so if they’re bigger maybe I’ll give some a try…

“how black IPA is distinct from other types of beer (a hoppy porter, in this case, I think)”

This is something that’s occurred to me too, so I brought it up with Ron Pattinson. He’s done loads of research into the India beer trade, so I wondered if I was on the right track in thinking that East India Porter – which at times had twice the export volume of the better known IPA – would also have been hoppy, and indeed rather like a modern BIPA. He seemed to think that, yes, there could well be a style overlap between EIP and BIPA.

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