Being at the heart of Bristol’s amazing food and drink scene, Moor Beer is lucky to receive  visitors from all over the world. Obviously, times are quite different at the moment and whilst they are still open for people to take beer away, many people are taking advantage of their home delivery service and ordering online. One key reason people visit them is to learn more about their beer and get advice or recommendations, so for these strange times, they thought it would be useful to put a quick guide together for you.

Which Format?

In the pub, the two most common draught beer formats are cask and keg. The quintessential hand pumped ale is typical of a cask beer. A cask has two openings, one at the top which lets in air, and one in the side which allows the beer to be dispensed. Kegs only have one fitting, where gas enters and pushes the beer out of the keg. 

Cask beer has a reputation for being warm and flat when compared to keg beers, but if the beer is well brewed and well served this isn’t true. The reason people consider cask beer warm is that it is served at cellar temperature (around 12C), whereas keg beer is served much cooler (8C or below). This warmer temperature allows the flavours to be more prominent. Served too cold, a cask beer will be bland, whereas a keg beer served too warm will be insipid. There is also a difference in the carbonation level in the beer. One of the holes in the cask is used to vent excess gas, which will make it less gassy (but not flat!), whereas kegs use gas to push the beer, so they stay fizzier.

Moor Beer Box

Why does this matter and which is better? The answer depends very much on your preference, and more importantly, the beer style.  Certain beers, such as Best Bitters or Porters, present themselves better from a cask, whereas other styles, like wheat beers or IPAs, benefit from the cooler, gassier presentation from keg.

So how does this translate when ordering beer to drink at home? Even before lockdown, people were  drinking much more packaged beer, and there are many formats to choose from. Classically, you’ve got bottles and cans and it may surprise you that scientifically cans are the better option! Cans are superior to bottles as they don’t let in any light or oxygen, thereby keeping the beer much fresher for longer. Cans are not just better than bottles for the beer, but also for the environment. They are significantly lighter, safer, more easily recycled, efficiently shaped for packaging and transport, and have better thermal properties for quicker cooling. Given the choice, always choose can.

But it’s not just bottles and cans that you can take home. Two other increasingly popular options exist. The first, commonly known as a ‘growler’, is basically just a resealable bottle. Usually 2 litres in size, they are filled directly from draught taps so should really be consumed within 24 hours - you’re really just decanting some beer into a bottle to take home and enjoy on the day. Another great option is known as a mini-keg. These are 5 litres in size and can be fun to have around, but don’t be fooled - they should be called mini-casks, as they have two holes, and just like a cask allow air to enter the top and the beer to come out of the side. This also means that they don’t stay fresh very long. People may claim otherwise, but as an insider (and Britain’s Brewer of the Year), I recommend they are finished within 24-48 hours otherwise they will go pretty flat. Whilst mini-kegs are a lot of fun and slightly better value for money, I would only choose one if you know you’re going to finish it on the night or at most the next day. If you’re doing your big shop, stick with cans.

Moor Beer Co Beer Keg

Which Style?

If you want to get really geeky, there are over 100 beer styles so as you don’t want to read a book right now, we’ll stick with the more common groupings you’re likely to encounter.

Pale & Hoppy – These have certainly become the most popular in the past 10 years. Light in colour, crisp, fruity, spicy and refreshing, you’re likely to see them labelled as Pale Ale, IPA, or some variation on those names. Hops come to the fore in these beers, the hop being a bittering plant that provides the fruity and spicy aromas and flavours. They are great with a wide variety of cuisines, with the hops complimenting strong flavours and the bitterness cleansing the palate. They are also great just on their own in the sun! Try our All Dayer Session IPA, , Hoppiness Crossover IPA or our PMA Pale Ale, the proceeds of which fund cancer research in Bristol.

Amber & Malty – Prior to the pale & hoppy craze, Bitter was Britain’s beer. It may have lost the limelight, but it hasn’t lost its charm and drinkability. Bitters are traditionally characterised by malty, bready flavours balanced by earthy bitterness, and best served on draught in a pub alongside a ploughmans. There are many variations and a wide spectrum of colours from amber to auburn. If you’re missing the pub, grab a can of our Raw Best Bitter.

Dark – Originally all beers would have been dark because early maltsters had little control over their drying methods and would scorch some of the malt. This leads to roasty, chocolatey flavours like you find in coffee. Trade tip - they go great with desserts. Try our Stout or our legendary Old Ale – Old Freddy Walker, which was twice awarded Champion Winter Beer of Britain and tastes like liquid fruitcake.

Lager – IPAs may get the glory right now, but let’s face it – lager is the world’s bestselling beer. Derived from the German word ‘to store’, these beers are fermented colder and longer than ales. Consequently, they usually emerge very refined and simple in flavour. We prefer the more interesting, rustic character you would find in the traditional lagers of Franconia, which has been the key inspiration for our awesome Lager.

Sour – Surely sour beer has gone off, no? Well, maybe yes and maybe no! It depends what has made it go off and why. Some beers are intentionally soured with a complex melange of wild yeast and bacteria. It may be a shock to the system at first, but sour beers are unbelievably amazing as an aperitif, or with food where you might want a bit of acidity to lift things. We champion some of the world’s best sour beer producers, such as Cantillon and Lover Beer, so come visit us to see what we’ve got available.

Moor Beer Cans

Why Live?

There is a final, and most important, factor to consider when choosing your beer – whether your beer is alive or dead. All of the large commercial beers you’ll have heard of, and most of the smaller ones, are dead. Either through filtration, pasteurisation, forced carbonation, or a combination. The thing that makes beer ferment, the yeast, has been killed or removed. Ostensibly this is done to make the beer last longer, which is an absolute lie (says someone who drank a 150 year old, naturally conditioned beer and lived to tell about it!). Yeast is responsible not only for creating the alcohol in beer during fermentation, but if used properly can provide natural carbonation and preserve the beer. Natural carbonation creates smaller bubbles and a cleaner profile, and many people pay for brewer’s yeast as a health supplement, so why not get it for free with your beer?! 

All of our beers are naturally carbonated with live yeast as well as being Vegan friendly, something we pioneered in the UK back in 2007 when we rejected the use of isinglass (fish guts) traditionally added to clarify beer. Our unfined beer preserves more of the natural flavours of the raw ingredients and provides a better mouth feel, which is why we always advocate to live life, drink Live!

For more information and to order your beer go to www.moorbeer.co.uk, and always remember to Drink Moor Beer!

Moor Beer Co logo
About the Author

Moor Beer was born in 2007 when Californian Justin Hawke purchased a defunct brewery based in the Somerset Levels and Moors. With its headquarters now in the centre of Bristol and a site in London, Moor Beer has become one of the world’s top-rated breweries, regularly winning national and international awards. In 2017, Justin was named ‘Brewer of the Year’ by the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Having kicked off the unfined beer movement in the UK to produce Vegan Friendly products that do not compromise on flavour and aroma, Moor Beer is the first brewer to be accredited by CAMRA for cask, keg, bottle and can. Moor Beer’s inspiration mirrors the journey of its founder, drawing hop and flavour impact from California,  naturally hazy beers of Germany and naturally conditioned beers of the UK. The result is what Moor Beer Company prides itself on – Live Beer.  Live Life, Drink Live!

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Their shop is currently open for takeaway and they are offering a free home delivery service in Bristol plus free courier delivery on orders over £50 nationwide