Moor Beer Company, Bristol
Posted on April 01 2020
Justin Hawke, a go-getting Californian who was inspired by English beer styles from the days of travelling with his father, moved to the UK in 2007 and bought Moor Beer Co. And boy are we glad he did!
These guys brew beers you can be proud of drinking.
We always have a Moor or two in our fridge. So it made perfect sense that they're our Brewer of the Month for April.
We're often in their Bristol and London tap rooms and now we're bringing their beers right to your door so you can see what all the fuss is about!
We had the pleasure of interviewing Justin so we can spread the Moor message far and wide. Here, Justin tells us where is all began, what's coming next and what's important to him as a brewer ...
How, why and when did it all begin?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. That being 2007 in rural Somerset.
Who influenced you?
My father is definitely the one who got me interested in beers from all over the world, and also took me to England (not just) to try real ale. I’d like to recognise Fritz Maytag for starting the craft beer movement and building a fantastic company. I’d also like to thank George Lucas for creating Star Wars and Henry Rollins for his contribution to society.
Is beer in your blood?
After I drink it. It’s also on my skin with lots of tattoos.
What makes you different from the many other breweries?
Being 100% independently owned and financed, we are beholden to absolutely no one but me. So, we do whatever I want to do, whether it is commercially prudent or not. That works its way down through all parts of the company and the beers we brew. I don’t think there is a brewer out there with more honesty and integrity than us, and obviously our reputation for quality and flavour is renowned worldwide. Tangibly, we have changed the industry in the UK by creating the unfined beer category and the vegan beer movement when we successfully lobbied the industry to change its stance on the use (or lack thereof) of finings. Also, we changed the industry again by getting CAMRA to officially recognise us for brewing real ale in a can, not an easy technical feat or campaign to win, but we did it and have created another area where others follow.
What do you put the success of your brewery down to?
Incredible attention to detail, first hand experience living, drinking and brewing in different countries, the best palates and creative minds in the industry, brewing incredibly drinkable beers consistently to quality, setting certain trends and avoiding others, amazing branding (thanks Ben King!), and having the best team in the industry (thanks to everyone at Moor!).
When did you realise that you were ‘on to something’?
Are we? We’ve just stubbornly done what we want to do and expect everyone else to get in line, more of a mosh pit than an orderly queue, but everyone will get served and help each other out.
What’s your favourite beer?
It really depends on my mood, Ih may sound flippant but is absolutely true. It’s got to be quality, it’s got to be flavourful, and it’s got to be drinkable (do those qualities sound familiar?!). I like most styles, apart from fast sours, New England, milk and pastry, none of which I find drinkable, enjoyable, or quality. I know it’s not cool to say that these days, but someone needs to say it (thankfully I am now not the only one). But if I go into a pub and want a fantastic cask beer, the first to mind will be from Timothy Taylor. For IPA I will always say Bear Republic Racer 5. For lager, stick me between casks of Monchsambach and Knoblach and I’ll swap between the two all night long not knowing which I think is best. Wheat beer is Schneider. Sour is Cantillon. Or Tilquin. Or Rodenbach Vintage. Or Lover. Or Ca del Brado. Or Montegioco. Or Opperbacco. Or Agullon.
What do your fans say – why do you think they buy over and over again?
Quality, flavour, drinkability, vegan, natural carbonation, great looking, and fun.
What do you think of the Bristol beer scene?
The British beer scene is one of the top in the world right now as far as variety goes. We’re blessed to have some amazing classic pubs, and also more modern beer venues. Bristol is definitely at the forefront of that.
Bottle or can?
Can of course, without any shadow of a doubt. They are quite simply better at protecting the beer because they do not let in light or oxygen once sealed the way bottles do. You cannot get around those facts. They are also more recyclable, safer, better for the environment, having a lower carbon footprint, lighter, cool down quicker, and offer more branding space. Consequently you can enjoy cans in many places you wouldn’t be able to have a bottle, and the beer will taste LOADS better.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
We were going to secretly amass a huge fleet on Exegol and surprise everyone with it but someone beat us to it. Back to the drawing board.
Who have you collaborated with and how do you decide who to collaborate with?
We’ve been doing collaborations for many years, long before most of today’s brewers started brewing. It’s a great way to have fun with and learn from friends. We’ve done collabs with home-brewers, charity organisations, bands, restaurants, pubs, friends, and breweries as large as Fuller’s and as small as Lover Beer. We get asked loads for collabs and have to turn most down. There is only so much space in the schedule, and we are incredibly particular about who we will work with and what we’ll brew.
Are you still creating the style of beer you were when it all began?
Of course. If you don’t have a real purpose to what you’re brewing I would encourage you to pack up and go home. There are easier ways to make a lot more money, but if you’re really committed then there is no better way to live life.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in the world of beer?
Hype. Most of what I hear people say or read is absolute garbage. Watching people walk around with their head buried in their phone to look for validation makes me sick. Go into a venue, drink what YOU like, and interact with people please! Beer is social. Your taste buds are your own. I’m not saying don’t research and learn, but don’t be told what to drink.
What's the next big thing? What’s going to be different next year?
Drinkability. I do hear growing rumblings of what I’ve been saying for a few years now, which is most of the hype beer is incredibly poor quality and undrinkable. Do you really want a pint of a 16% White Milk Stout with chilli, coffee, guanabana, turmeric, kale, a new £20 note and hamster hair, served out of a popcorn maker? I’m sure someone will try to brew that, and I’m sure someone will say it’s awesome on Instagram. But let’s be honest. Look around the next time you’re in a hip place and see if people are drinking those things, or taking an airbrushed selfie and quietly finding an obscure place to dump it. People really want to drink enjoyable beer – quality, flavourful pale ales, bitters, stouts, lagers, etc. that you can have more than a pint of. That you WANT more than a pint of. That time is coming around again. Thankfully.
A big thanks to Justin! We hope you enjoyed reading our interview. For more on Moor (see what we did there?) check them out at www.moorbeer.co.uk