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Moor’s Bristol Takeover

Last weekend, to break the journey back from Yorkshire to Cornwall, we stopped over in Bristol and spent an evening accidentally immersed (not literally) in Moor Beer.

When we interviewed Justin Hawke for Brew Britannia, the brewery was based on the sleepy Somerset levels, where its shiny metal and US punk attitude seemed rather out of place.  Last year, however, it relocated to Bristol, which is sometimes called the Capital of the West Country, and which is certainly the heart of the South West’s ‘craft beer revolution’.

We say ‘accidentally’ above because we went out on the town with no fixed plans other than to have a half of something exotic in BrewDog but, a few steps along the waterside from there, we came across the Three Brothers burger restaurant which was proudly displaying to the street a line of shiny keg fonts, most of them bearing Moor’s logo.

It was, we realised, a ‘tap takeover’ — an increasingly common marketing event whereby a venue aims to overwhelm its customers with a large range of beers from a single brewery. When we started blogging, there wasn’t really any such thing in the UK, but now it’s possible to stumble upon one at a perfectly decent but not especially cutting edge burger bar — a sign of the times, surely?

We had to eat something, so in we went.

As they were serving in third-of-a-pint measures, we got through quite a few different beers between us, most of them at least a little hazy (Moor famously doesn’t use finings in its beer) and suspended yeast we think must have contributed that common strawberry-sweet note we noted in all of the paler beers.

Nothing we drank here was a dud, as such, but ‘TM’ (traditional mild, 3.9%) like many modern attempts at the style, rather resembled a watered down stout with charcoal and coffee grounds where we hoped to find mellow dark sugar. (We try not to be style pedants but…) The stand-out hit was Hoppiness (6.5%) which combined chewy bread-crust malt flavour with orange-marmalade hops, rounded out with the faintest after-kick of acidity.

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Having got the taste, we decided to head for Moor’s tap room bar in an industrial unit behind Temple Meads station. The walk, under graffiti’d railway bridges, past unnervingly silent terraces and warehouses, isn’t especially picturesque, especially accompanied by Friday night sirens and drizzle, but we made it in one piece. Unfortunately, others were less intrepid, and we had the place to ourselves — or, to put that another way, there were as many bar staff as bloggers.

It’s a bright, clean space with splashes of bold colour, hand-painted wall manifestos (‘Unfined and Naturally Hazy’) and, rather cleverly, black acoustic tiling to dampen the echo that is the inevitable side effect of carpetless, curtainless and cushionless contemporary decor.

We kicked off with halves of So’Hop (4.1%, hops from New Zealand) and Nor’Hop (also 4.1%, hops from the US) — pale’n’hoppy golden ales we’ve had many times in the past but which we enjoyed no less this time. We also seized the opportunity to drink Old Freddy Walker by the third-of-a-pint — about the right measure for this old favourite, a dark, 7.3% boozy fruitcake of a beer.

Despite the view over a rainy road and an ad for Carling Cider, and despite the lack of party atmosphere (the charming bar staff did their best) we stayed until closing time (10 pm).

This visit confirmed our view that Moor is a consistently interesting brewery making great, quirky beer, and that its tap room is one more reason to visit a city which is already a very heaven for beer geeks.

6 replies on “Moor’s Bristol Takeover”

Yay! Bar acoustics! Remember Pete Brown going on about this? And (shamelessly) us?
Course, it’ll sound even better with some people in.

Re: finings. I used to be a frequent home brewer and I never used finings. Despite that, my beers were always completely clear, so I don’t accept it as an excuse for hazy beer by commercial brewers.

How long did they take to clear Nev? What size casks are we talking about? And what was the distribution chain like?

I finally got to have some Moor beers a few weeks ago when Justin was visiting the Philly area; it wasn’t a full tap takeover – something we sometimes have too many of around these parts, though it seems churlish to complain – but it was a nice selection. I’m looking forward to them being more generally available here (especially given how difficult it can be to find anything under 6% locally – the tasty Old Freddy Walker notwithstanding), but I’d love to try them closer to the source; I haven’t been to Bristol since 2001 or something equally silly.

Hazy beer just looks better to most people. It looks fresh and tasty and zingy and projects a cool, modern image, completely different from that awful clear muck with the big mr whippy head that looks and tastes like john smiths (maybe it is john smiths?)

If CAMRA hate it, so much the better. All the old fat blokes probably don’t like loud music or feminists either. Let them hate.

Unless anyone has any new evidence to bring to the table, can we leave the debate about unfined/hazy beer there, please?

It feels as if this has been gone over fairly thoroughly in various comment threads in the last couple of years, e.g. here.

(I’m asking nicely, not throwing toys out of the pram or laying down the law or anything like that. Not yet, anyway.)

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