Six Nations is here – Relax with an Otter

Goodbye January, hello Six Nations.

It already seems a long time since the World Cup – England just pipped at the post by South Africa but what a journey.

February means two things; summer music festivals are one step closer and the Six Nations begins. Reigning champions (and Triple Crown holders) Wales kick off the competition against Italy whilst England renew old rivalries with France in their first match.

Our love of rugby is pretty well known – just come down and check out Sandy Park of a weekend. Otter Amber, Otter Bitter (the official cask beer of Exeter Chiefs) and Otter Ale have all been re-branded for the competition so make sure your bar looks in top condition.

To keep up to date with all upcoming fixtures click here.

Special new arrivals at Dartmoor Zoo

The temperature may have dropped but there’s still plenty of reasons for festive cheer at Dartmoor Zoo. After something of a whirlwind romance in one of the enclosures, staff recently welcomed four new pups into the extended DZ family with today marking the big unveiling.

Born to parents Matty and Jasmine, the young Small Claw Asian Otters are the latest additions to join the eclectic mix of animals living here on the edge of the moor and we’re delighted to be on board and helping to support the new arrivals – cute doesn’t even come close!

The attraction was made famous in the 2011 Hollywood film ‘We Bought a Zoo’, starring Matt Damon, Scarlet Johansson and Crystal the Monkey (as herself), which tells the tale of recently bereaved owner Benjamin Mee as he purchased the previously dilapidated zoo with his children in 2006.

Following the massive exposure around the world that the movie brought, in recent years the 33-acre site has enjoyed a new lease of life with increased footfall and year round school trips. In 2014 the business concentrated its efforts on becoming more conservation focussed and began working with Plymouth University and students studying Animal Science at Duchy College.

The Brewery and Dartmoor Zoo actually share many of the same environmental values, a similar wild side and of course a very strong bond with our furry friends. As a fellow family run business it gives us great pleasure to be sponsoring one of the new pups….. our boy, naturally, is called ‘Tarka’!

We’ll also be supplying beer, bespoke t-shirts and a raffle prize to tour the brewery. Our ongoing sponsorship will help facilitate new houses and ponds, additional toys and also extra heating and lights in the enclosure. It’s a dynamic partnership and one that we hope will bring many more visitors to the park.

For opening times, etc please visit: www.dartmoorzoo.org.uk

The waxing of a new moon at Otter

New Moon is the latest addition to the Otter stable. It’s a grown up, proper dry gin with a good nose and a refreshing taste that makes you want to have another.

Retirement eventually comes to us all. Mum and Dad however, after stepping back from a lifetime of brewing, still had a ton of energy in them and a craving to make something that people want to drink. With our ‘historic’ middle barn available again – the place where the very first batches of Otter beer were made – some initial experimentation with a small still quickly got out of hand. A trial batch of ‘McCaig Gin’ got the thumbs up one night and from then on they were in at the deep end.

Just like in our beer, they use water from the head springs of the River Otter – the elixir of life! The spices added in the middle of the distillation help to give it a natural smoothness as does the seaweed. Compared with brewing it’s a clean and warm occupation but just as scientific. The basic process involves putting the botanicals into the still along with water, soaking these overnight and then adding the spirit before putting the still on. Once it’s up to temperature the magic really starts to happen and the barn quickly fills with gorgeous aromas.

Time to taste. With a citrus flavour to start with, a mouth-watering smooth middle and a long tasty end, the grapefruit zest, ginger, fresh juniper and spices definitely carry through – now tell us that’s not going to get your taste buds going! 

It’s available to order via our online shop or you can pick some up at Powderham Castle, Darts Farm, The Seriously Good Wine Co in Lyme Regis, Barleymow’s Farm Shop in Chard, Millers Farm Shop in Axminster, Colyford Post Office or Wine World and The Holt in Honiton. Pubs & restaurants can add some to their normal beer order.

It’s an exciting new chapter for them both – the waxing of a new moon.

Our warming festive ales are ready to go

Christmas is coming and December wouldn’t be the same without a dark ruby pint of Otter in your hand.

This time of year provides the more adventurous brewer with the chance to produce a slightly darker, more warming beer for these long and challenging winter nights…. Keith is never happier than when he’s developing new recipes by the warmth of his mash tun – his wife has learned to love the smell of hops!

These two festive favourites are warming to the core. Otter Claus at 5% ABV is a beer of pure indulgence brewed to balance malty flavour with a bitter sweet chocolate edge. The Fuggles hop delivers a bitterness that makes the beer dangerously ‘moreish’.

Crisp and fruity, Otter Elf, slightly lighter in strength at 4%, is the less potent stablemate but equally full of flavour with a well balanced malty flavour and a dark ruby colour – look for flavours of apple, pear, stone fruits and lime citrus with spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper.

Remember, these two otters are just for Christmas. Both are available to order now with your normal beer order. Claus (bottled) is also available to order from our online shop.

Extending our partnership with Exeter Chiefs & Prem Rugby

Rugby is definitely in our veins and the relationship that we’ve fostered with Exeter Chiefs is one we cherish. So it’s a great feeling to have just extended our involvement with the club and English Premiership rugby for the next 5 years.

Building on a strong relationship that pre-dates their promotion to top flight rugby in 2010 and with Otter Bitter the official cask beer for match days, thirsty fans coming to Sandy Park are guaranteed a rousing day out watching some of the countries best players – see if you can spot the otter on the players’ shorts.

Come half-time there’s also the chance for the adventurous to take on Derek the Otter…. a stadium legend. We’ve evolved the format for this season so instead of tackling our furry friend, the ‘Otter Challenge’ is now an obstacle course of sorts where teamwork is the name of the game – think Gladiators meets the Crystal Maze!

The Chiefs were Premiership Champions in the 2016/17 season (also four-time finalists) and the sport’s popularity is now at an all-time high following the recent Rugby World Cup. The club prides itself on their support and integration into the local economy and is a real force for good around Devon raising tens of thousands every year via its Foundation for local charities. Over £200,000 was donated in 2018/19 with more than £1 million raised since inception. We’re pleased to play a part in that too as well as encouraging the next generation of players.

Tony Rowe OBE, Chairman & Chief Executive of Exeter Rugby Club, added: “We’re delighted that we are able to extend our long-standing partnership with Otter Brewery. Together we have over the years forged a fantastic and winning formula when it comes to providing entertainment and beer at Sandy Park. We look forward to building on that over the next five years and thank Otter Brewery for their continued support towards the Chiefs and, of course, the Exeter Chiefs Foundation.”​

To keep up to date with all upcoming fixtures click here.

The Otter Eco Cellar – Celebrating a Decade

Beer is definitely in the blood and there’s a history of brewing going back at least five generations on Mum’s side of the family. But we’re also a forward thinking business with innovation a key driver. Somehow it’s now been ten years since we dug down and the UK’s first eco cellar went up.

With a design that was both respectful to the environment around it and transformative to the backs of our workers, now that we’ve really bonded….. through deep snow, torrential rain and a couple of endless summers, it’s striking how future-proof the cellar still feels today.

Constructed over two years, half of it cleverly sits half underground and is built from honeycomb clay blocks more commonly used in the Alps. From concept to completion, by trapping the sun’s light and heat and building down rather than up, its construction is a testament to intelligent eco design in the 21st century – in the summer months the living sedum roof looks like a Swiss hillside!

With an almost cathedral-like quality it can comfortably hold over 5,000 casks and has all the properties of an ice store in the middle ages. Crowning the upper level is a living sedum roof which recycles rain water without us even knowing it. By going underground we can cleverly use the earth’s core temperature to naturally cool the lower level area to 12°C – the ideal storage temperature for cask ale. A set of inner and outer airtight doors ensures this is maintained throughout the year and really ratchets up its eco credentials.

This infrastructure replaces the need to have 8 chillers and compressors, running 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year – this saves over £27,000 (or around 6½ tonnes of CO2 emissions) per year and helped it win ‘Eco Building of the Year’ at the South West’s 2010 Commercial Property Awards.

Sure, we cannot single handedly save the plant, but we can set an example to others and demonstrate how processes can be managed ecologically and sustainably – the cellar is just one of a long list of green initiatives that you’ll see across our brewery.

Tarka Four providing tasty support for Exeter Beats

Spring in Devon and this May Bank Holiday comes with a tasty twist. Back for its 16th year and spread out in the heart of the city, the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is a massive showcase for the very best that our region has to offer – both edible and drinkable.

Once again we’re sponsoring Exeter Beats which this year features 3 headline DJ sets. Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones) kicks off Friday night, Radio 1’s Scott Mills takes care of Saturday and fellow jockey Nick Grimshaw wraps up Sunday night. Tarka Four will be ably assisting and providing all the necessary support (….. dancing juice).

All your favourite Otters will be on the bar throughout the weekend waiting to refresh all the parts that need refreshing. As well as the beer, Mum and Dad have chosen the festival to launch New Moon, our first foray into the world of gin. Retirement just somehow seemed to pass them by and they’ve switched brewing for distilling in the middle barn. Come and along and try a little of the ‘Spirit of Otter’ – it’s a zesty little number and a tonic for tired feet.

Check out www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk for all the details. 

Exeter Uni Women’s Rugby set their sights on Twickenham

We’re very proud of our long-standing relationship with the Exeter Chiefs (….. currently sitting pretty at the top of the Premiership) but we also love to get involved at all levels of local rugby.

One of our latest partnerships is with Exeter University Women’s Rugby Club (EUWRFC). In this our second season with them as kit sponsor, we’ve watched their season go from strength to strength in the ‘British Universities and Colleges Sport’ Rugby Union League.

Undefeated all season and current defending champions, after a great run of form, by mid-March it was into the quarter finals against Loughborough. After a convincing demolition job (67-5), a semi-final with Cardiff was on the cards. Another win. Then came the dreamed-of final against Durham at Twickenham – the spiritual home of English rugby.

After some enthralling end-to-end stuff, a closely fought match eventually saw our ladies come out on top (30-26). Cue the celebrations for the back-to-back champions of Britain followed by some well deserved R&R (….. bottles of Otter Bright) on the journey home.

With Twickenham fast becoming a second home for Exeter rugby we’re delighted to be supporting all our local boys and girls – the future’s certainly looking ‘bright’.

Otter Amber takes Gold for the South West

Otter Amber has just won Gold to be named ‘Best Cask British Bitter (up to 4.4%)’ in the South West – not a bad way to celebrate 10 delicious years as top dog in the Otter stable.

The awards, run by the Society of Independent Brewers, took place at the famous Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival in downtown Newton Abbot – a dark and aromatic beer drinker’s nirvana. Already a firm favourite on the South West beer scene, our zesty mid-gravity beer also went on to win Bronze in the ‘Overall Champion of the Cask’ competition from the 263 different cask beers judged this year….. a smooth operator if ever we saw one.

Word on the river bank is that there’s never been a better time to explore the world of Otter – lager or ale, keg or cask, cider or spirit – as a tight-knit team we’re very proud of the brewing heritage that we have. Following on from Tarka Four’s big win in February (….. now officially the ‘UK’s Best Session Lager’) it’s another big well done to our Head Brewer Keith Bennett and his yeastie boys.

Tarka Four voted UK’s ‘Best Session Lager’

Tarka Four has just been named the UK’s ‘Best Regional Session Lager’ at SIBA’s (Society of Independent Brewers) 2019 National Independent Beer Awards.

24 hours later it then won the national ‘Gold Award for Session Lagers & Pilsners up to 4.4%’ – an amazing double that officially makes it the best session lager in the UK!

Following last year’s success at the same awards when Tarka Pure (4.8%) was named best in the UK after winning Gold in the ‘Premium Lager and Pilsners’ class, this takes Devon lager and all our dreams to a different level.

Tarka Four launched at the beginning of March 2018 and has already gained a lot of traction on bars across the South West. It’s been specifically designed for local pubs, clubs, hotels and music venues who want to offer a local alternative to the global beer brands and means that drinkers can now enjoy a couple of pints that have been made right here in Devon.