Moorhouse’s Brewery brings Maris Otter barley back to Lancashire

Internationally acclaimed, award winning Burnley brewer Moorhouses’s are leading an agricultural revolution in the brewing trade. The brewer, known for its ales such as Pride of Pendle and Blond Witch, has partnered with farmers in the county to grow its own barley, rather than buying it in like other breweries do.

Moorhouse’s requirement for the particular Marris Otter variety of barley has led to it being grown again in the area after an absence of two decades.

Maris Otter barley largely disappeared from the North West because it was difficult to grow, but Moorhouse’s Brewery’s need for the grain has led to a commercial partnership that is seeing some local farmers try it again.

Farmer Olly Harrison, who has taken up the challenge, said the variety “doesn’t yield very well and you have to nurture it”.

However, the brewery’s managing director David Grant said it was worth persisting with as “it makes fantastic beer”.

“Our barley initiative is at the heart of our success. We aim to build a ‘terroir’ similar to that for French wines. We want publicans to know they can have cask ales with real provenance from Burnley – ales brewed in Lancashire from the best Lancashire malt. By ensuring a market we are helping it to survive, for our own sustainable future and for the industry.”

The brewery is hailing the early success of the initiative with the first crop is set to be harvested shortly.

In a further testament to the quality of the ales being produced at Moorhouse Street, Turnover at the eponymous brewer has soared to a record £5million.

The brewery hailed its strategy of “growth through quality and provenance” as the reason for its revenue boost for the year to 30 September 2013.

Meanwhile, the brewer said sales were up by 8 per cent in the first six months of its current financial year with almost 2.6 million pints sold.

Moorhouse’s managing director David Grant said: “It’s still a very tough market as pubs close and the number of micro-brewers grows unabated.

“Some regional brewers have contracted, but we continue to see sales rise as we win new business nationally. We have confidence in our strategy to push forward through quality and provenance– not price discounting.

Moorhouse’s was founded in 1865.

To watch a video feature about Moorhouse’s Marris Otter inititative on the BBC website click here