Somerset Magazine 1997
By Adrian Tierney-Jones
Up until a year ago Arthur Frampton was just an ordinary
Somerset dairy farmer. His farm is set among the green rolling
fields around Ashcott, a pretty village which sits on the
Polden Hills looking out over the Somerset Levels. The farm
has been in the family for four generations. However the
BSE crisis was starting to hit the Framptons hard. An unlikely
salvation was to come in the shape of a pint glass. Arthur
had always liked the odd real ale or two but he started
to think that maybe he could do as well, if not better,
than some of the brewers whose beer he drank. So, although
he had never before even tried a home brew kit he decided
to have a go. Perhaps amazingly the beer was delicious and
Moor Beer Company was born as Somerset's newest real ale
brewery. The first pint was pulled just a year ago on February
29th. Now it's a thriving concern.
Two sheepdogs welcome visitors to a farmyard cluttered
with tractors and agricultural implements. They keep trying
to sneak into the disused cow shed that is home to a collection
of wooden-sided brewing vessels; Arthur's wife Annette has
to keep shooing them away. Moor Beer is a family operation
with Annette also helping out on the admin, design and brewing
side while Arthur's father, Mr Frampton senior, does most
of the deliveries. Faded photographs of past Framptons keep
watch on the family's fortunes from a wall in the brewery.
Added assistance comes from friends John Ditchfield and
Keith Darke who were involved in the initial setting up
'We've always been small dairy farmers,' says Arthur, 'but
there's not much money in it. As a small farmer it was getting
to the stage of a joke. Luckily we did this just as the
BSE thing broke and it became an incentive to do more. We
were going to do two brews a month but it got to the stage
where we are doing four a month. And now we are doing four
'We also had a lot of help from the local district council.
We thought we would have real trouble getting this passed
as a brewery because it was an agricultural shed but they
turned up and had a look through the front door and said
they liked the idea and would give us whatever help they
could. I thought it was going to take six months, but they
actually pushed it into the meeting within about four weeks
and it was passed.'
In the 12 months since they started trading Moor Brewery's
distinctive and delicious beers have endeared themselves
to real ale drinkers of Somerset from Bruton to Luxborough.
Their debut ale was the excellent Withy Cutter, a slightly
malty, pale brown beer, with a moderate bitter finish: very
tasty and refreshing it's a more than adequate celebration
of one of the Somerset Levels' most famous products. Further
ales have included the stunning amber-coloured, malty, full-bodied
Merlin's Magic and a straw-coloured refreshing premium ale
Chandos Gold which has a marvellous hoppy back of the throat
finish. Watch out also for their birthday beer, Moor Anniversary,
which will be available during February and March and a,
so far unnamed, special beer brewed for the Somerset branch
of CAMRA's real ale festival which will be held in Taunton
A further local seal of approval came from Bridgwater
MP Tom King who visited the brewery a couple of months ago
and thoroughly enjoyed a pint of Withy as Arthur explained
how he'd set up the operation.
'We contacted him because we thought it would be interesting
to try and get Withy into the House of Parliament bar,'
recalls Arthur. 'And also to find out his thoughts on the
Beer Laws. He got in touch last June and eventually turned
up in October. He seemed to enjoy himself. We showed round
the brewery and gave him a pint of Withy. He showed a fair
bit of interest in the beer-making process.'
So what goes into a Moor pint? Moor get their malt from
Nottingham and Newton Abbot. The hops are English and the
liquor is good plain Somerset water. The yeast is a dried
strain, though there are plans to skim their own. But, says
Arthur, they are trying to get the beer side of things straight
before doing anything so adventurous. An added bonus of
being based on a farm is that used malt is recycled straight
to the pigs, a couple of delightful Gloucester Old Spots
called Connie and Pru. The farm is still home to a herd
of 27 cows but Arthur can see this side being phased out
as the brewery goes from strength to strength.
'I want the business to trundle along without it getting
too big, he says. 'I still enjoy the farming side,'but it's
the time factor now there's the brewery to look after. We're
still running about having to feed cattle during the winter
and there's also the pigs and assorted horses, including
a young draught horse called Gorgeous Breeze who we aim
to have as the brewery horse one day.' Delightful visions
of Moor Beer dray horses steadily trotting through the lanes
and by-ways of Somerset spring to mind.
Arthur sees Moor as part of a strengthening real ale scene
in the county. He echoes the views of several local brewers
who say that the county is becoming a Mecca for lovers of
good beer. 'Somerset is good for real ale,' says Arthur.
'There's a lot of free houses around, especially on the
Poldens, and it goes down well.' Which just goes to show
how seriously the drinkers of the county take the company's
slogan - Drink Moor Beer!