"Drink Moor Beer". If you owned a brewery company called Moor, then you couldn't possibly wish for a better advertising slogan, nor indeed a better name for your beer. And if your beer had won numerous awards and umpteen accolades, then you'd be even prouder of your name and to encourage people to drink more of the stuff.
Moor Beer is named after the Moors and Levels area of Somerset, which is where the original company started brewing in 1996. Things did not work out, and Moor Beer closed in 2005. Two years later Californian, Justin Hawke, bought the company and started it afresh; ditching some of the original brands, adding new ones, and reworking the rest.
Hawkes’s bold new approach was to combine the German tradition of naturally hazy beers with that of the American, "flavour-forward" philosophy. He then mixed this in with uniquely British practice of secondary fermentation. In doing so, Justin created what Moor Beer call Modern Real Ale. The company are now regarded as one of the top-rated breweries in the world.
In 2014 the brewery moved to central Bristol, in the area behind Temple Meads Station. The new site also includes a taproom and brewery shop and, as I discovered the other Friday, they have now opened a taproom in London. I heard the news from journalist and fellow beer-writer BryanB, whilst attending the Budvar Imperial Lager tasting event at the Trading Post.
Bryan mentioned he would be going along to the Moor Beer taproom opening, later in the afternoon, and asked if I was going? I wasn't aware of the event, especially as I hadn't received an invitation, but Bryan thought that as a fellow beer-writer, admission wouldn't be a problem. He told me the location of the taproom - in yet another railway arch a short walk from Bermondsey Underground station, shortly before he departed from the Budvar event.
Having just refilled my glass with the 7.5% Imperial Lager, I wasn't in a terrific hurry to leave, so I told Bryan that I might see him there. Seeing as I was in town for the afternoon, I decided to throw caution to the wind, despite starting to feel the effects of my lunchtime indulgence. The Budvar event was drawing to a close, so I made my way along to Bank Underground station and took the tube to Bermondsey.
The Moor Taproom wasn't hard to find, and after showing my card to the person on the door, I was allowed inside and given five beer tokens; each worth a half pint. There were quite a few people inside the arch, some milling around by the open entrance, others hanging out at the bar, but most were seated on wooden benches inside the arch.
Owner and brewer, Justin Hawke was present on what was obviously a big day for Moor Beer Co, mingling and chatting with the guests as well as helping out behind the bar, where necessary. I noticed Bryan sitting at one of the tables, tapping away on his laptop like a true professional, putting me and my pile of hand-scribbled notes to shame! After saying hello I wandered over to the bar to grab myself a beer. There were six cask and twelve keg beers on offer. The four beers I sampled were all excellent, showing just what can be achieved with the right approach coupled with correct formulation.
On cask I enjoyed Nor' Hop, a 4.1% "Ultra Pale Ale" and Dark Alliance, a 4.5% Coffee Stout, with a nice hoppy aftertaste. On the keg front, the 3.5% All Dayer Session IPA and the 5.0% Smokey Horizon, Smoked Rye Pale Ale completed the line-up as far as I was concerned.
It is worth noting that all the company's beers are un-fined, and are designed to be served with a slight natural haze. Their cask beers do not contain isinglass finings, and are described by the brewery as "natural". Moor Beer Co now supply all their beers as un-fined and naturally hazy, claiming this is best for the beer and for the consumer. Even their cans are un-fined, and because they still contain "live yeast" CAMRA has given them its seal of approval, designating them as "real ale in a can".
I used four out of my five tokens, wisely deciding not to make use of the fifth. Bryan had already departed, and dusk was starting to fall as I made my way back to Bermondsey station. I left thinking that the presence of a taproom belonging to a brewery with the standing of Moor Beer, was a definite positive addition to the London beer scene; even if it is rather crowded in the Bermondsey area.
It was a good way to end what had already been an excellent day in the capital, and I was really pleased to have had the opportunity to enjoy some of the excellent beers which Moor produce. My only comment would be that, like virtually all the other establishments along the famous Bermondsey Beer-Mile, the taproom could do with some more enhanced toilet facilities!
Footnote: I have just received news that on 3rd May, Moor Beer will be holding a Tap Takeover & Meet the Brewer session, at Fuggles Beer Cafe, just down the road from me in Tonbridge. The date is firmly in my diary!