There’s a change in the wind and a whisper in the streets of Taplow. It wasn’t until I visited the home, tiny beer-garden and micro-brewery of Margi and Id, founders of Moog Brew that I realised how incredible their enterprise really is. Trading for 2 years now, the married couple developed an interest in brewing after travelling around the UK, USA & Belgium and visiting countless breweries, “it was a journey of learning for us that had only one logical conclusion … to have a go ourselves.”
After homebrewing for a couple of years and winning competitions, they finally caved in to pressure and made the transition to sort-of commercial brewing. I say ‘sort-of’ because while everything is operated with the professionalism and standards of a commercial enterprise, every other aspect of Moog Brew is wonderfully home-made, heart-felt and DIY from the bottling to the marketing and even the sales and distribution. Margi and Id have carved out for themselves the perfect balance of work and play, enterprise and enjoyment with Moog Brew, because despite the overwhelming potential to expand and grow the business, they’ve made the decision to keep things small. This way they can manage the business from home, keep a close eye on the quality of the product and develop personal relationships with their customers who range from a select few local pubs to neighbours and even random pedestrians.
Margi and Id brew twice a week in their tiny garden brewery, with each brew taking about 3 weeks from start to finish. Cherry-picking the best advice from the professionals, who, Id says “have been so helpful, it’s such a welcoming community so generously forthcoming with information”, Moog beers, unlike most home-brews are bottled after cold-conditioning which results in a constistency of quality which is not always easy to achieve when bottling by hand. The curious designs and names are created in collaboration with their friend designer and illustrator Dave Anderson, of Dog & Rabbit who always finds a suitable character or provides inspiration for each new brew.
The golden rule for Moog is that they will only brew beer styles that they like to drink. They’re particularly interested in brewing traditional styles that are rarely brewed locally and aim to remain true to brewing traditions, adding a modern twist only where it adds interest. According to Id, “our local water supply is well-suited to brewing Porter and it’s a style that offers up many variations of malt-forward flavours, such as chocolate, coffee or smokiness. Our ‘Wigmore’s Right Proper Porter‘ (6.5%) even has a hint of liquorice.”
Saison (Selina Saison 5.4%) , another one of their brews, is a traditional Belgian farmhouse ale that was originally brewed to quench the thirst of farmhands, especially in the Walloon region. Moog’s take on it is to finish off with a New Zealand hop that adds a slightly tart gooseberry note, akin to the Sauvignon Blanc grape. They also brew a ‘lemon’ variation which has proven very popular with regular customers and which will also be available in bottle soon.
American craft brewers have taken the traditional India Pale Ale and ramped it up to very high levels of bitterness, using large quantities of exotic fruity hops for full flavour. Whenever we returned to the UK from our stateside visits, we found that English bitters and IPAs were bland by comparison. We use all-American hops in our Bastard Bunny Strikes Back American IPA (6%) to match the flavour profiles we prefer.
The Moog Brewery shop & taproom is fully licensed and sells at least 80% of the beer produced through the regular open days and via off-sales by appointment. This method limits the quantity Moog are able to sell to trade, so they restrict trade sales to beer festivals within a 10-mile radius. Moog also supply a small number of local outlets with bottles. “Demand massively exceeds supply though,” insists Margi, “so we only supply outlets that we would be happy to visit ourselves.” Our CAMRA brewery liaison officer recently described us as a ‘community brewery’ because we provide a valuable service to our own local community. We’ll settle for that!”
So if you like your beer local, natural and full of character, then head over to Moog Brewery for one of their open days. You can find them at 1 Copeland Cottages, Marsh Ln, Taplow, Maidenhead SL6 0DF or visit them online at www.moogbrew.co.uk