Drink Moor Beer — Letchworth Beer of the Festival Presentation

In November 2012 Kathlene and I had the privilege to form a tiny delegation from North Hertfordshire CAMRA to visit the Moor Beer Company in Somerset. The purpose of our visit: to present the “Beer of the Festival” award won by their beer Revival at the 2012 Letchworth Beer and Cider festival. As reported in the previous edition of Pints of View this is a light golden and hoppy beer at 3.8% ABV. Revival was notable from the moment I first broached the cask to be rewarded by a burst of intense aroma, it was like breathing hops. The beer won the festival by popular vote, obtaining twice the number of votes of the runners up.

When you see the owl, you're there.

When you see the owl, you’re there.

Given that Somerset is a bit of a trek from North Hertfordshire we arranged to visit the brewery on a Saturday and stay overnight in a nearby inn recommended by the brewery’s owner and head brewer, Justin Hawke. After checking into the inn we continued on to the brewery… and drove straight past the small side-road it’s on. Returning back eastwards we spotted the correct turn, there was a large road sign visible from the west but no matching sign to be seen from the east. Tricky! We were soon outside a large green farm shed, a wooden owl on a bicycle wheel atop, and us knocking on the brewery door.

The wall-of-awards

The wall-of-awards

We were ushered to a corner to admire Moor’s wall of awards to keep us out of the way at first. A yeast transfer was taking place at the time and you need to be careful with your yeast! This gave us a good opportunity to study our surrounds. Moor is a typical example of a working brewery, all serious concrete and stainless steel. There is a scattering of pallets, boxes, kegs, and one luxury-item: a bottling machine. The yeast was soon safely dealt with and we were able to get the business of the award presentation and photography out of the way. We were then able to enjoy a few beer samples and have a good discussion with Justin, his staff, and a couple of local visitors. The topic, unsurprisingly, was beer — but in particular Justin’s strongly held views on matter of good beer.

Justin prefers to make, sell, and drink what he calls natural beer and doesn’t like using finings in his cask ales. These “finings” we’re talking about here are a chemical substance derived from certain types of fish which is added to cask ales to help them clear faster and brighter. The action of finings is to make yeast in the beer clump up and sink to the bottom of the barrel. The primary problem most people have with finings is that their use makes cask ale unacceptable to strict vegetarians. However Justin doesn’t believe leaving finings out is good only for vegetarians, but that it also makes the beer more flavoursome and enjoyable. Flavour components, especially hop oils, stick to small particles that are pulled down to the bottom of the barrel and thus out of your pint of beer. I have heard others counter that the haze can also carry undesirable flavours and I suspect that this is an argument that could go on for quite some time. At the end of the day the truth is in the mouth of the beer drinker.

I tasted Justin’s cask ales in unfined-form at our excellent inn, the Queen’s Arms in Cortham Denham, and can very much say that the ale was in incredibly fine form. There was a slight haze to the beer, enough to put a frown on the face of many cask ale drinkers even though the beer tastes perfectly good. This, I think, is where the battle-lines lie for unfined ales: the culture of cask ale is one where a beer will not usually be considered perfect unless it is crystal-clear. This may change over time as awareness grows, it may also be aided by the growing popularity of more heavily hopped IPAs. These strong and very hoppy ales tend to carry a “hop haze” irrespective of whether they’re fined or not.

Only time will tell on the matter of whether unfined cask ales will gain a wide acceptance in the UK. Personally I hope they do, both for the sake of my vegetarian friends and also for the simple fact that Justin’s ales do taste incredibly good. The cask of Revival we had at the Letchworth Beer Festival was fined we believe, we will certainly try to have Moor beers at future beer festivals and when this happens the beers will be unfined. You see, Justin used his last finings in December 2012 and from January 2013 all Moor beer will be unfined. You can read more about Moor Beer Company, their beers, and their stance on finings on the brewery’s website: http://moorbeer.co.uk/

I’ll leave you where I started, with Moor Brewing Co’s very fitting slogan:
“Drink Moor Beer!”

Us with the Moor team

L-R: Richard Cann (Asst. Brewer), Tom Scrancher (Asst. Brewer), Justin Hawke (Owner & Brewer), Yvan & Kathlene (N.Herts Committee), Mike Cable (Asst. Brewer), and Fred Wilde (West Country Ales)

Bottled Moor beers are available online through West Country Ales, who have a shop-front in the picturesque Cheddar Gorge. Fred Wilde, shop owner, was at the presentation and we visited his shop the next day to find a great selection of beers. Beaut Cheddar cheddar from across the road, and great west country ale… perfect. You can order Moor beers online here: http://www.westcountryales.co.uk/ — follow Fred on Twitter: @westcountryales.

If you run a pub or beer festival, we bought our Moor “Revival” from one of London’s newer beer distribution companies: Liberty Beer, they don’t currently have any regular deliveries within Hertfordshire but may be able to arrange something for you if you get in touch: http://libertybeer.co.uk/ — they’re on Twitter too: @liberty_beer.

Finally — this write-up was created as a North Hertfordshire CAMRA contribution to the Feb/Mar edition of Hertfordshire’s “Pints of View” newsletter, find it in your local Hertfordshire pub or online here: http://www.hertsale.org.uk/?newsletter


3 Good Things: Pasta, Smoked Salmon, Egg

This recipe has been devised in response to Hugh’s “Three Good Things“ challenge. I am, of course, endeavouring to add beer as a sneaky fourth “good thing”. I’m adding it as a subtle addition — much the way the chefs in the TV episodes will gladly include brilliant oils, vinegars, stocks, and herbs without giving them a headline credit.

Who doesn’t have a collection of dried pasta in the cupboard? Starting with a bag of dry pasta a variety of starchy dinners can be ready in about 15 minutes. Butter and garlic. Mushroom and bacon. Grilled vegetables and chopped tomato. Always a grating of pecorino romano or similar. An endless list of simple favourites… however I’m taking a different tack: pasta salad! Perhaps it is a bit naff? I’m going to try to avoid the soggy gloopy sort of salad you may buy in the supermarket when you’re in a hurry and really bring my three ingredients together in a perfectly balanced taste sensation. Well, that’s the plan.

Beer Mayonnaise

This is the hardest part, but I assure you making a quick mayonnaise is dead easy really. I prefer to stick to a recipe that uses two or three yolks, as I find a whole egg usually produces more mayo than I ever need. Using just yolks also gives you a nicely warm coloured mayonnaise. This is also where I’m adding my sneaky dash of beer, I’m using an incredibly zesty, hoppy golden ale for this that adds an intriguing zing to the flavour. There are many such ales around these days as the style is very popular. I’m using Revival from Moor Beer Company, it’s a great beer and this year it won the “beer of the festival” award at a CAMRA beer festival I help out at (I order the beer!) The Moor brewery is located in Somerset and Justin, the owner and brewer, takes special pride in producing seriously flavourful beers with a focus on naturalness and freshness. Anyway, on the the recipe…

Mayo IngredientsIngredients

  • yolks from 3 small, or 2 large eggs — deeper the colour the better!
    • mine come from a stand out the front of a house just up the road
  • “sufficient” light flavoured oil
    • I ended up using about 220g of plain sunflower oil
  • 50g extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
    • I’ve used rapeseed oil from our nearby Coveney Farm
  • 2 tsp vinegar
    • cider or white wine is best
  • some hoppy golden ale
    • I’ve used about 5 tbsp of Moor Beer Company’s “Revival”
    • You could tweak this by using different sorts of beers too, a rich double-IPA would work well too I think.
  • ground white pepper— to taste
    • about 5 pinches in my case (just a tiny bit of what’s in the photo!)
  • salt— to taste
    • about 3 pinches in my case (just a tiny bit of what’s in the photo!)

Separate the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and, whisking continuously, gradually drizzle in the 50g of flavourful oil. When done whisk in the vinegar. Then continue with a drizzle of the lighter oil until you have a very thick mayonnaise that will form peaks, wobble a little when tapped, and stick to a spoon held upside down, etc. Whisk in beer a tablespoon at a time until a thick creamy texture is achieved, akin to a thick salad cream.

A helping hand is useful! Sticks to a spoon...

Add beer a tablespoon at a time... Until a loose creamy consistency is achieved...

Finally add in white pepper and salt to taste, be conservative with the salt at this stage as the smoked salmon in the salad will be quite salty already. The flavour was pretty good, with a definite beery and hoppy hint to it. I’d be interested to try this again with something with more body, the Moor Hoppiness perhaps or a BrewDog Hardcore IPA.

Egg and Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

Salad ingredients

  • 1 pack of fusilli cooked, drained and cooled
    • very important that this is “al dente” or your pasta salad will be a soggy mess
  • mayonnaise (from above)
    • Add as much as you feel is sufficient. I used it all… but it was probably a little too much. Any leftover mayo could be used another day. It would probably be excellent with some beer battered fish.
  • 1 small red onion — very finely chopped
    • half a larger onion in my case
  • 1 small garlic clove — chopped and crushed to nearly a paste
  • 200g of sliced smoked salmon— roughychopped
    • if you can find them smoked salmon “pieces”, aka “offcuts”, are just as good and often much cheaper
  • 4 boiled eggs — cut into 8ths or 12ths
  • 3 spring onions — finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of parsley — finely chopped

When I cook a pasta like fusilli I boil it in loads of water with a generous dose of salt, but I don’t bother with oil in the water (it never seems to do anything but make the pan harder to clean). When cooked I turn it out into a colander, drain well, drizzle with rapeseed oil, and toss until the pasta is evenly oiled. Set it aside to cool to room temperature, you can then refrigerate it for later if desired. In fact this is a recipe I’d typically prepare from last night’s leftover pasta.

Reserve a few prettier bits of boiled egg, some pinches of chopped parsley, a couple of tablespoons of green chopped spring onion, and a few bits of smoked salmon for garnish. Combine everything else except the mayonnaise in a bowl, use your hands to ensure the smoked salmon is well broken up and distributed.

Finish off by using a large spoon to stir through the mayonnaise, ensuring everything is well coated. Move the salad to a presentation bowl, scatter over the reserved garnish ingredients, and complete with a sprig of fresh parsley. Done! This will fill the bellies of about 4 hungry people, or stretch to 6 with some sides, or 8 or more if provided as a side-dish.


Serve with a a glass of the zesty golden ale used in the mayo. This is a beaut summer brunch on a lazy Sunday morning, or late lunch for the lazier. To make more of a meal of it serve as a salad alongside something grilled on the BBQ — salmon steaks perhaps?

When I do this again, which I certainly will, I’ll probably add something else to just lift it up a bit. Some roughly chopped capers perhaps, or gherkin. It could do with a little extra *zing*.