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Classic Beer of the Month June 2017: Moor Old Freddy Walker

Moor Old Freddy Walker, 7.3%

There were celebrations in Bristol last month when Moor Beer received an award from CAMRA for brewing this year’s Champion Winter Beer of Britain.

Moor Old Freddy WalkerThe beer that took the title was Old Freddy Walker, a beer that was first brewed nearly twenty years ago by the founder of the brewery, Arthur Frampton.

Back in those days, Moor Beer was based on Arthur’s farm in the Somerset village of Ashcott. There he created a mellow, dark ale that he named in honour of a local character, an old seadog by the name of Freddy Walker.

Today, Moor Beer is a strikingly different concern. Housed in a modern brewery just behind Temple Meads station in Bristol, it has been in the hands of American brewer Justin Hawke since 2007.

Hawke has completely revamped the range of beers and made the brewery one of the UK’s most exciting and forward looking, with an emphasis on beers that are unfined and naturally hazy.

The extensive selection includes zingy hop-dominant beers, amber ales, a smoked beer, wheat beers and stouts and porters, but I – and clearly many others – still have a liking for Old Freddy Walker, a classic old ale.

First Impressions

I have always enjoyed this beer, from the first time I sampled it for the Good Bottled Beer Guide back in 1999. At 7.3% it’s not an everyday tipple but it slips down incredibly easily for its strength, whether served from the cask or bottle conditioned.

The beer is produced using pale, lager, crystal and black malts – hence the deep ruby colour – with a little wheat malt. The single hop used is Bramling Cross, noted for its rich fruit notes.

Sweet dark berries, liquorice and roasted grain are the key features, from the aroma to the finish, with a touch of coffee emerging in the dry finish. It’s a bold flavoured beer but never aggressive or daunting.

I’ve always suspected that it matures rather well and I put that theory to the test recently by opening a bottle I’ve had in my store for a number of years. The best before date was marked as November 2012, meaning the beer had been in the bottle for about seven years, I’d guess. But you’d never know it.

It still tasted fresh and clean, with lots of grainy malt, juicy fruit and still that lingering hint of liquorice. Only a winey note suggested that the beer had aged at all.

For an added twist, the beer is also available under the name of Fusion. This is an annually-released, slightly stronger version (8%) aged for six months in Somerset Cider Brandy casks.

This year’s CAMRA award was not the first for this beer – Old Freddy Walker claimed the same title back in 2004. If it remains as good, it won’t be the last.

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