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20th November 2015




Moorhouse’s Brewery – Lancashire’s famous  ‘Pendle Witches’ brewer  – saw the Halloween season bring magical sales of more than half-a-million pints.


Despite very tough industry challenges, the acclaimed brewery enjoyed record sales with a seven per cent spike over last October – to once again make the season ‘as busy as Christmas’. Premium brew Blond Witch was the top selling brand with the fledgling White Witch, the newest and fastest growing core brand, hard on its heels.


The news follows growth at six per cent over the last financial year with sales close to £6m for the former ‘backstreet’ Burnley brewery, which in 2011 boldly launched a multi-million pound complex to treble production. It is now Lancashire’s leading independent brewery and celebrated its 150th anniversary with a two day Halloween beer festival and party.


Managing director David Grant said: “Our team has worked tremendously hard to achieve record growth this year against all the challenges and problems of the current market. Despite many pubs closing and the number of micro-brewers growing relentlessly our quality beers have won through. It seems that the trend to the lighter coloured beers is still growing with Blond Witch and White Witch performing so well out of our six core beers.


“Increasingly publicans recognise Moorhouse’s as the brewer of choice for the witching season and this year we have made further progress nationally with leading pub companies while seeing our beer go very well in our Lancashire heartland, where Halloween is always much celebrated.”


Moorhouse’s brands are themed around the story of the ill-fated ‘witches’ who roamed Pendle Hill near Burnley in the early 17th century. The sales boost was welcomed soon after Mr Grant spoke of the challenges for further growth as more than 20 pubs closing each week while micro–brewers mushroom at a rate of some 12 a month.


Currently the brewery owns three community pubs and has recently looked at acquiring small pub groups in the North. But  he believes one route to a healthy future for the modern 1000 barrel-a-week capacity brewery could lie with the newly emerging ‘micro-pub’ concept – small outlets often set up in former shops to primarily sell cask ales – and has mooted opening a chain across the North from Chester to York. Ends/Ref: MHPR Halloween 2015b


Notes to editors: Founder William Moorhouse established his drinks manufacturing business in Accrington Road, Burnley, in 1865. It produced mineral waters and then low strength hop bitters for Temperance Movement bars.

The brewing of full strength cask-conditioned ale began in the 1970s with Premier Bitter. Since then the internationally acclaimed ‘Pendle Witches brewer’ has won more awards than any comparable brewer: Black Cat (3.4%abv) was crowned Supreme Champion  Beer of Britain at the  Camra Great British Beer Festival  2000 and in 2011 was proclaimed the best moderate strength ale by the Brewing Industry International Awards (BIIA) – the ‘Oscar’s’ of the brewing world.

Pride of Pendle (4.1%abv) claimed the Champion Cask Ale title at the BIIA 2004 and Premier Bitter (3.7%abv) was voted gold in class; Pendle Witches Brew (5.1%abv) was twice runner-up in the Camra annual national contest and has received a silver medal at the BIIA.  Blond Witch (4.5%abv), a pioneer premium blonde brew, has collected awards from many Camra and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) beer festivals.  White Witch (3.9%abv) session strength ale is the latest to join the core portfolio and is the fastest growing brand.

In 2011 a £4.5m ‘tower’ brewery was launched to replace the cramped Victorian premises. With a 100 brewer’s- barrels- brew- length it trebled production capacity to 1,000 barrels a week to make Moorhouse’s ‘the North West’s newest regional brewery’. With a current annual turnover near £6m, the state-of-the-art brewery now directly supplies several hundred free trade pubs throughout the North of England and reaches outlets nationwide via contracts with major pub companies and leading drinks wholesalers.

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