William Moorhouse began brewing in Burnley in 1865, though initially the output was limited to mineral waters, before they saw the light and turned to producing low alcohol hop bitters in the early part of the 20th century.
The brewery has narrowly escaped closure a couple of times in its recent history. It was only with the introduction of Pendle Witches Brew in the 1980s, that Moorhouse’s really secured a long-term future, as well as a brand which has spread its fame.
The name recalls a grim piece of local history when twelve local women were accused of witchcraft. Following assizes in Lancaster and York, ten were executed.
The current crop of beers are all branded to the same occult theme, with names such as Witchfinder General and Blond Witch.
Black Cat Reserve is a rich ruby ale, as dark as stout, with substantial malty, chocolatey overtones. There are suggestions of treacle to the aroma, before the beer explodes on the palate, with a burst of bitter chocolate which slowly fades into a smoky espresso finish.
It delivers all the substance you would expect of a 5% ABV ale. And if this Black Cat crosses your path, you’re in luck.