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14th September 2015


Moorhouse’s rolls out a special cask-ale in September in a double toast to Maris Otter as ‘the king of brewing barleys’.


First Cut (4.2%) celebrates the leading Lancashire brewer’s successful revival of the legendary barley in the North West as the grain also sees its 50th anniversary – an exceptional achievement as most barley types are superseded by new strains.


An agreement to grow Maris Otter with a group of farmers around St Helens and Preston secures crucial sustainable supplies for Moorhouse’s championship ‘Pendle Witches’ ales – and is central to a ‘growth through quality and provenance’ strategy.


First Cut delivers ‘an exceptional sweet biscuit taste’ from the malt together with

‘spice and honey notes with an earthy, minty balance’ from two traditional British hop varieties – East Kent Goldings and Fuggles.


Maris Otter was developed specifically as malted barley for British cask-ale in the 1960s. However, snubbed by big brewers, it became scarce as farmers turned to other crops. In recent years it has enjoyed some revival and the National Maris Otter 50th Anniversary Beer Festival in Norwich (September 17 to 19) will showcase 50 different beers brewed with the grain.


Although still only a small percentage of UK brewers brew with Maris Otter, it was used in nine of the most recent fifteen Champion Beers of Britain – including Moorhouse’s victorious Black Cat ale in 2000.


David Grant, managing director, said: “We have always used Maris Otter in our award winning beers, but First Cut celebrates its revival in the North West in its milestone 50th year. Now the farmers know they have a market and we know we have a supply. We would like to expand the cultivation and build a ‘terroir’ – quality cask ales with real provenance brewed in Lancashire from the area’s best malt.


“This initiative is good for our future and the industry at large. So with our First Cut now pouring, we want cask enthusiasts to raise a glass or two of this very British beer to the future of this king of barleys.”


With the launch of a £4.2m brewery complex in 2011 Moorhouse’s became ‘the North West’s newest regional brewery’ and is now Lancashire’s leading independent. Ends/MHPR- First Cut 2015a


Note to editors:

Interviews with David Grant of Moorhouse’s and the farmers involved in the scheme from the St Helens and Preston areas are available on request.


Maris Otter: The unique Maris Otter flavour is much favoured by brewers over malt from modern varieties. With the established support of CAMRA and recognition of its true worth by the major maltsters and brewers Maris, Otter is today acknowledged across the brewing world as the finest-quality malt available and probably the only variety grown to achieve exactly what brewers require.



The official launch of the new brewery in 2011 marked an historic milestone in the turbulent history of the award winning Burnley drinks company, founded in 1865 by William Moorhouse to produce  mineral waters and low alcohol ‘temperance’ beers. Full strength brewing began in the 1970s.


Internationally acclaimed for its ‘Pendle Witches’ brands Moorhouse’s has  won more brewing awards than any other comparable brewer. It now directly supplies some 600 free trade customers throughout the North of England and Midlands, while the brands are also distributed nationally via wholesalers and through leading pub companies.


Black Cat was voted Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) Champion Beer of Britain 2000 and won gold in class at the Brewing Industry International Awards 2011; Pride of Pendle claimed the Champion Cask Ale title at the BIIA 2004 and Premier Bitter was voted gold in class; Pendle Witches Brew was twice runner-up in the Camra GBBF annual contest and has received a silver medal at the BIIA. Blond Witch, the newest and fastest growing brand, has collected awards from many Camra beer festivals and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers).


For further information contact: Steve Hobman, Rhino PR:  07751 578605. email: