Our reputation has extended out East. I’m not talking about just to Kent, but all the way to Hong Kong. A pilot programme was launched in April at a bar in Hong Kong to convert the masses (or at least a few of them) to the delights of real ale. And of course if you want real ale you want the best, so they demanded Moor Beer. It made sense to start with our most traditional beer, Merlin’s Magic, which will be followed shortly by Revival and Peat Porter to add further interest. The beers are unfined to give them a lovely mouthfeel and beautiful sheen, and they’re vegan friendly. So if you are in Hong Kong (or passing through), stop by the MUFC Bar for a pint of properly pulled goodness. And if you’d like to see Moor Beer in other Eastern venues just let us know.
It has been proclaimed by the great and the good – May is Moor Month. And the awesome people at the Queen’s Arms, Corton Denham should know. They weren’t judged Pub of the Year for nothing! Recognising that wonderful point in time when we had several seasonals emerging at once, they realised that every tap would need to be pouring Moor Beer if they would get to try it all. And why not? So May is now officially Moor month. There will be a good number of interesting, one-off, dry-hopped, unfined, and various other delights in cask, bottle and keg to try. Oh, and a couple mildy things, too! Whatever you do, get to Corton Denham during May. You’ll find it becomes a regular habit.
After the huge success of Southern Star, the realisation hit that we wouldn’t be able to brew that beer for another year as the special hops were in very short supply. Then we found out about a newish American hop that got the creative juices flowing, and the idea for Northern Star was conceived. There were still several months to wait before we’d receive this limited edition American hop, but boy was it worth the wait. The first batch rolled out in late March and sold out in less than two weeks. And it won the first ever Halfway House Beer Competition. Those of you that know the pub will realise both the intensity and importance of this competition. This is not just any pub festival – this is the Halfway House. And they were impressed. Thanks to all the locals (and those that travelled from further afield) for supporting us and voting us the best.
The second batch of Northern Star went on to take Silver at the Maltings in the most competitive category – Best Bitters,with many educated drinkers commenting that it was easily the beer of the festival. We hope to keep it flowing for another couple of months until Southern Star makes its appearance once again in the heavens. If we’re really lucky they might both be visible at the same time. One can only hope!
As always, more time next to the mash tun means less time for updating the site. But do not fear, our efforts do not go unrecognised. We’ve already received a number of awards in 2010, including medals at Exeter, Bristol, the Halfway House, the Maltings, and even Rate Beer. At least that’s what we’re aware of. The details are listed against each of the winning beers. Some of these we found out about purely by accident, but we appreciate the recognition nonetheless. Keep drinkin’ it!
While attending San Francisco Beer Week I had the rare pleasure of meeting another Justin. This one was even more famous and impactful on the beer world as he runs the Brewing Network. For those of you that don’t know the BN, it is THE source for global beer information, camaraderie and entertainment. The team run a series of regular radio shows, both technical and fun in nature, which aim to enhance the brewing and social skills of both home and professional brewers. Let’s face it – some of us don’t get out much! They also act as a virtual worldwide homebrew club and run annual events. Apart from their vast brewing knowledge (Justin?), they are really great guys to hang out with. And they brew some excellent beer. Producer Chad’s homebrew was some of the best beer we had on the entire trip, particularly his Helles – a style that despite living in Germany for two years I’ve never considered particularly memorable. Thanks guys for hosting us and showing us such a great time! I hope the listeners enjoyed and got something out of the show.
If you don’t know the BN you need to open another browser and go to www.thebrewingnetwork.com. You can listen to the Moor Beer interview at http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/603. On it we discuss real ale, CAMRA, pubs, beer festivals, sample JJJ and Fusion (along with a couple Jesus beers), and generally have a good laugh. We were joined by James from the Queen’s Arms, Corton Denham and Phil from Beer Merchants. Also, don’t forget to join the BN Army. Details are on the site. If we can get a large enough unit in the UK perhaps we can organise some competitions and events…
If you’re interested in SF Beer Week, by far the most comprehensive set of beer events globally (run early February), you can check it out at http://www.sfbeerweek.org/. If you’re in the SF Bay area there are more places to sample excellent beer than you’ll be able to get to, but there are a couple brewpubs not to miss. Under Rodger’s excellent brewing leadership you must brave the BART journey to Berkeley to visit Triple Rock. Since taking over the kettles he has put on tap a range of amazing and interesting beers. I was particularly fond of many of them, including IMAX and SHE (Single Hop Experience – we had the great joy of Chinook). Another high recommendation is Gordon Biersch (make sure it’s the SF branch by the Embarcadero). Never a fan of their beers when I lived in SF, John has really turned the place around, brewing clean, highly flavoured beers. And they make a nice change from the typical West Coast styles. Rodger and John are masters of their craft and great guys. Go check them out.
There are also a number of world class micros (yes, I know a couple have brewpubs up north). There would be too many to mention, but our top three would have to be Bear Republic, Russian River and Drakes. If you come across any of their handles or bottles you won’t be disappointed. Now join the BN Army, listen to the show, buy a ticket to SF and get stuck in!
You already knew it, but Moor Beer officially brews some of the best beer in the UK.Â This wasn’t one of those awards where you pay to enter, or a festival with a limited selection.Â This was voted on by consumers that searched out and judged our beer throughout the year on Rate Beer.Â We brew two of the top 20 beers in the UK, with JJJ IPA ranking #9 and Old Freddy Walker ranking #16 in the Rate Beer 2010 Awards.Â Thanks to all those that parted with their hard-earned cash to buy the beer and took the time to rate it.
Also, we would like to ask those looking at Rate Beer and other rating sites to ignore ratings prior to 2007 (good, bad or indifferent).Â You may not remember that the brewery was bought and relaunched by award winning brewer Justin Hawke at the tail end of 2006 and that he did a complete overhaul of the plant, recipes, and consequently its reputation.Â Long gone is the vinegar that was churned out under the previous regime.Â These awards are the best endorsement we could ask for so thanks again for your continued support.
Happy New Year and best wishes to all you happy drinkers in cyberland. You may be wondering why we’ve seemed to be a bit out of touch in the past few months. Those a bit closer to the brewery know that we’ve been doing some pretty amazing things and haven’t had time to get the good word out a bit further. ‘No Excuse!’ I hear my old roommate shouting. And he’s right.
But we’ve got some awesome fans that have taken matters into their own hands. Hence the new website, Facebook page, Twitter and Flickr accounts, all set up with their own initiative. Talk about a great group of friends! Thanks Phil, Ben, Dan, and everyone else who goes that extra kilo for us.
We’re trying to get everything updated and running as quickly as we can from a content perspective, starting with the beer pages, then the news and social networking technologies. Rest assured we’ll keep the comms flowing much more timely in the future. In the interim, please have patience if this machine isn’t perfectly oiled yet.
Keep drinkin’ it!
Cult beer JJJ IPA has been gaining attention from more than just its hardcore fans. It was a finalist for Champion Winter Beer of Britain, and once again will be a finalist for the SIBA National Champion – the second year running, and the second year it was eligible. There was a lot of great feedback from the drinkers in Manchester, and we’re hoping for a great turnout from the fans at Nottingham in February. Enjoy!
Merlin’s Magic has always been a high-flying beer and a favourite of many regular drinkers. It’s flying even higher now, on board an Agusta Westlands Merlin’s helicopter. To commemorate 100,000 flying hours of their iconic Merlin’s helicopter, they asked us to produce a limited edition version of Merlin’s Magic. The new label was designed by Agusta Westlands, blending the award-winning Moor Beer image with their corporate colours, and of course, the Merlin’s helicopter. Sadly, they were not collected by helicopter but driven to Yeovil. However, we are sure they will be enjoyed nontheless, and the bottles cherished for a long time to come. Well done to everyone involved in the Merlin’s project at Agusta Westlands and congratulations on your milestone. Keep up the Magic!
Judges and fellow brewers had a look and agreed – we have the best pump clips, bottle labels, and branding in the UK.Â To recognise this, we were awarded the SIBA Brewing Business Award for Best Point of Sale.
Feedback on our beers was extremely positive.Â We won a number of regional and national awards, but feedback on our branding had not been so positive.Â People loved our name and slogan, âDrink Moor Beerâ, but felt our visual imagery was not in sync with our beers.Â Drinkers felt our beers were big and exciting, while our branding was old-fashioned, boring, and inconsistent.Â In addition, our old imagery was very graphic intensive, which meant that launching short run specials was difficult and expensive.
One of our local consumers worked with us on the branding, with a two-word ethos: Modern Classic.Â We wanted something that was fairly classical looking, modern enough to appeal to a trendier audience, but not so trendy that its usefulness would be short lived and it would alienate our traditional drinkers. The overall image had to be instantly recognisable as Moor Beer, no matter what brand it was on or what format (bottle, pump, print, etc.).Â It also had to be simple and easily changeable so we could launch short run specials with minimal time and investment.
We decided to use colour and text to alter the brands, but leave the overall Moor Beer image bold, strong, and consistent.Â The concept came from a church hymn board, with interchangeable numbers.Â The centre of our imagery would be the canvas we would use to convey our message, but the frame would remain the same throughout.
Our first milestone was to launch our new bottles at the Bath & West Show.Â We started with three brands, distinguished on the bottle by their text, colour, and cap.Â As an early adopter of Cyclops, we wanted to include it prominently on the label as well.Â Unlike most bottles, we went with an oversized 660ml with an oversized label.Â We also chose to go with a matte rather than gloss finish to give it a classic, high quality feel.Â The labels were die-cut to ensure the new Moor Beer image stood out. Due to the high specification and small quantities they are very expensive to produce, but we feel they are worth it.Â They arrived just in time for us to date stamp and apply them the morning of the show!
Displaying at such an important event meant we had to have more than just bottles.Â We needed Â new brochures, business cards, t-shirts, stickers and a banner.Â Once we had the overall branding complete, rolling it out to the other formats was relatively straight-forward (although it did not feel that way as the show approached!).Â The event was a huge success and consumer feedback was very positive.Â Our stand won third place for the Celebrating Somerset area, and our branding helped us get noticed by BBC Somerset Radio, which has had us on air twice since the show.
When the show finished we turned our attention to sourcing our new pump clips.Â We fell in love with the wooden hymn board idea, which was truly innovative, and found a producer that would laser etch wooden boards for us.Â It is a huge investment to produce these clips, but once a pub has our pump clip board, the ongoing cost of rolling out a new centre card is minimal.Â It has a couple of added benefits as well.Â Firstly, if a landlord doesnât have one of our cards or lost one they can make their own.Â Secondly, if they want to rebadge a beer for a special event or make their own they can easily do so.Â On the bar the clips truly stand out and become a talking point for both consumers and bar staff.
For labelling miscellaneous items such as take-away Jerri cans and beer boxes we needed a generic sticker.Â As our main logo gave us the flexibility to alter the middle, we decided to produce simple stickers with the middle blank.Â We could then hand-write whatever we wanted to put on any type of package.Â They were also used at the Bath & West show as a giveaway for children to write their names on.Â This was popular with both the children and parents, although we did have to challenge a few children who would have preferred beer but made do with a lollipop.
Our new t-shirts have proven very eye-catching and popular.Â With a bold âDrink Moor Beer!â in the centre, and differently coloured garments, they always attract attention. Despite only being at the GBBF trade day for a few hours, several consumers have written to us requesting shirts, and many came up to us at the festival, who subsequently tried and enjoyed our beer there.Â Bottle shop owners and publicans have also bought shirts to sell at their premises because of consumer demand.Â Our shirts, clips, labels and other future items will be available to order. Details are on the site or write to us at [email protected]