The Jester's new clothes

The Empire Strikes Back

"We called the hop Jester because when Peter [its creator] came in and talked about its New World appeal, we thought he must be joking,’ So said Will Rogers, of specialist hop merchant Charles Faram as we crowded round our dark wooden table, enjoying time with the brewer of Jester’s first beer, Justin Hawke of Moor Beer, from rural Somerset.

Braving the winds and the rain, Justin and his small crew had made it to London to launch The Empire Strikes Back in a number of hostelries. We were in The Earl of Essex in back-street Islington, a pub replete with a dazzling number of cask ale fonts, several of which were serving Justin’s expressive beers.

“I’m very, very pleased with the beer, and very pleased with the hop,” said Justin, "especially considering the challenges it faced.”

Not only was this the hop bine’s first year – like vines and apple trees, they normally take a few years to get into their stride and produce their best crop – the “unbelievably awful” weather didn’t help.

Moor Beer crewThe beer shows lovely, zappy piney-tangerine notes, Still a work in progress, both Will and Justin see this as proof of the potential of a renaissance for the British hop industry. Teetering on the verge of extinction due to the snazzy appeal of imported hops, this is one strand from Charles Faram’s hop development programme.

Moor Brewery first came to national consciousness with its Triple J IPA. I never tasted it but I gather it was exuberantly hopped to say the least. Located some 10 miles from Glastonbury, the crew, pictured left, are committed to brewing distinctive, full flavoured ales. Next in line will be Smoked Horyezon, brewed – you guessed it – with rye malt. ‘It’s very difficult to work with” says Justin with a smile, “but it does give you spicy intense flavours. think of the difference between white bread and rye bread”.

Looking forward to it already…