Otter Brewery continues support of Flaming Tar Barrels

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Loyal to the cause: Otter Brewery is once again the main sponsor for the iconic event
Loyal to the cause: Otter Brewery is once again the main sponsor for the iconic event
Devon’s award-winning Otter Brewery will be helping to support one of the most iconic events in its region's calendar.

Each year, on 5 November, the world-famous Flaming Tar Barrels are carried through the streets of Ottery St Mary much to the delight of thousands of residents and visitors.

The custom is said to have originated in the 17th century and accompanies the lighting of the bonfire on the banks of the River Otter – one of the biggest bonfires in the south-west of England.

Each of Ottery’s central public houses sponsors a single barrel and, in the week prior to the event, the barrels are soaked with tar.

They are then lit outside each of the pubs in turn and once the flames begin to pour out, they are hoisted onto local people’s backs and shoulders.

In some cases, generations of the same family carry the barrels and take great pride in doing so. Some 17 barrels are lit in all over the course of the evening.

Visual spectacle 

A minimum of £30,000 had to be raised for the event this year – all done entirely by the local community throughout the year via communal activities and individual endeavours.

Continuing its support of local community events, Otter Brewery is, once again, a main sponsor for the visual spectacle.

Beer is also being brewed to help support the event which is co-ordinated by Mike and Jacqui Down, landlords of the Volunteer Inn.

"With our position on the committee, Jacqui and I try to help the event move with the times," Mike said.

"Even though the Tar Barrels has become its own entity and draws in thousands of visitors, every year the paperwork increases and it becomes more difficult to pull off.

"The town has really gone above and beyond again to help with the fundraising – from sponsored bike rides and long-distance runs to special themed nights in the various pubs."

Safeguard for future

A reusable cup is also being introduced for the first time to help reduce waste and make the event safer.

"We also want to safeguard this event for future generations – we both ‘barrel roll’ as do our two sons," Mike added.

Patrick McCaig from Otter Brewery said the success of the event is down to the help and support of the community and its pubs.

"We’ve also brewed an official beer for the event – Flaming Ale – that will be available in local pubs," he added.

"We just hope the flames don’t singe our whiskers!"

Related topics: Events & Occasions