Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Where Next?

A cask Breather
So Pete wrote about the CAMRA stance on styles of dispense yesterday which frankly I could only see as a cynical ploy to get his no.1 spot back on Wikio from Sid Boggle(but shh...don't tell him I said that). In doing so though, I do think he made some excellent points and I want to touch on them from the point of view of someone who sells lots of all dispense styles.
Firstly as someone who has never used a cask breather, if a beer tastes amazing from cask and a cask breather is used, who cares?? Now, before the CAMRA bods say how can you say that if you've never used one? I have tasted beer from a cask with a cask breather and it makes very little difference to the taste.
swan necks with sparklers
The cask breather is designed to get a small amount of CO2 to replace some of the oxygen in the cask, extending it's life and giving it more condition at the point of dispense, not changing the taste.
I'm therefore also interested to hear the views of CAMRA members on sparklers and how CAMRA think they change the taste and condition of a beer! And if so why do so many northern CAMRA pubs get to use them? One I wrote in yesterday, Bacchus(Tyneside CAMRA pub of the year 2009 and 2010) uses sparklers and the beer still tasted superb! So, come on CAMRA bods speak up or forever be voiceless wannabes!
Secondly if a kegged beer tastes better than a cask beer is the world going to end?? No, and it does quite often taste better. Take Lovibonds for (a British) example, fantastic beers and not a cask conditioned one amongst them. Shock, horror! Never! I can see beer being spluttered all over keyboards across the country. Yes people, sometimes it DOES taste better when dispensed through a keg.
I hope I'm portraying the argument that I don't give a shit how a beer is dispensed as long as it tastes good that's what I'm hoping to do anyway.
The last point that I'd like you to think about is if CAMRA has done such a good job and the battle for real ale is effectively won, what now for CAMRA?  What is in the organisations future? After all, some of the more militant 'CAMRA-Types' are starting to 'expire' due to being older than God and who is left to pick up the mantra? Why, the more reasonably minded younger people of course!

20 comments:

Pete Brown said...

You're a cynical, cynical man, Roberts. How could you think that of me?

Rabidbarfly said...

cynic? me?

Cooking Lager said...

Once cask breathers come in, next it'll be super chilled smooth flow fast cask and then the world will end. Thank god for cheap lout.

MusicRab said...

Tech question. Just looked at the CAMRA website and it says (for keg beers) "The beer lacks any natural carbonation which would have been produced by the secondary fermentation and so carbon dioxide has to be added artificially. This leads to an over gassy product."

In my experience of "non-real-ales" you don't necessarily end up with an over gassy product. Does this mean CO2 isn't added? If no CO2 has been added does that mean the beer must have been pastuerised?

Barm said...

How on earth can you tell that Lovibonds is better from the keg if they only sell it in the keg?

Dave Lozman said...

From a drinkers point of view as long as it tastes good I'm not really bothered.

Rabidbarfly said...

@barm apologies I meant to say that Lovibonds(a kegged beer produced) makes beer that is often as good as if not better than some breweries that only produce cask conditioned beer.

Rabidbarfly said...

At Dave my sentiments exactly. Thanks!

Rabidbarfly said...

At Rob it doesn't mean that co2 hasn't been added and I'm not in the position to tell whether or not a beer that gets pasturised is a good or a bad thing. I do subscribe to the view that 'leading to an over gassy product' is a pile of bullshit though. That quote is an over generalised view and a reason CAMRA are out of touch.

leserrenuove said...

There is still a lot of work to be done with Keg and it does not suit all style of beers. Take two Brewdog Products: 5am Saint and Punk. It does not work with 5am Saint (greater bitterness and malt flavour) whilst it does for Punk (as long as it not served too cold nor over carbonated. There are different textures you get with cask too, which for some styles are better suited to cask. Keg isn't the future, just offers a different way to enjoy beer, particularly stronger ones. For me the best way of serving beer is the Aitken Tall Font, like in the Bow Bar Edinburgh! What do you class that as?

Ed said...

I've tasted the same batch of beer in both filtered keg and cask forms. I would happily have drunk both but the cask was much better.

Barm said...

The proponents of "craft keg", if they had any sense, would point out that the stuff is not filtered or pasteurised and is actually a lot closer to real ale than it is to the keg muck that CAMRA was formed to fight against.

Thomas said...

Keg is the future. Look at the American beers which were so flat at GBBF! Good work; Glyn. Does this mean I need to read Pete's blog now to even up the count??

Rabidbarfly said...

Thomas - That sort of bullshit Brewdog propaganda isn't helpful. The reason for this blog was to say that that beer can be good no matter what the form of dispense is. I don't care how it's poured.

MusicRab said...

"I don't care how it's poured."

I usually draw the line at cans myself.

Rabidbarfly said...

To be fair Rob, the US are doing some very good craft beer in cans, look at Maui Brewing or 21st Amendment to name the two that jump straight into my mind.

ben said...

Because this comment thread needs more flame throwing, allow me to add the following.

In general, there is a terrible tendency to conflate a method of storage/dispense/distribution with product. I find this really irritating. The thing about kegs is that they don't change (or change very little) over time. So when you have the beer from the keg *that's what the brewer meant for you to have*. This can be with as little or as much gas as the brewer thinks suits the style. But the point really comes down to this. Don't blame kegs for crap lager any more than you should blame casks for crap bitter (and there are plenty of both).

With regard to the can thing, same applies. From an actual science stand point (I know, science, bah) cans are in every way superior to bottles for storage and distribution. They block UV better then brown bottles (don't get me started about beer in green or clear bottles), have a lower oxygen permeability (so the beer takes longer to go off) and and they're much lighter which massively lowers the carbon footprint of distribution. The problem of course is that historically, can have held only the crappiest of beer and well stored crap is still crap. As rabidbarfly has said though this is changing. I draw everyones attention to http://craftcans.com/ which is a good source for this emerging trend (I found out about this site from one of you beer blogger types. I think it was Mark Dredge but I'm not sure...).

Rabidbarfly said...

Ben, I need to buy you a beer for these comments, cask carling?

Jason Stevenson said...

Why do most people fall into the trap that beer in kegs is pasteurised or filtered or both.

At Lovibonds we brew our beers to be served in kegs they are developed to maintain flavour and aroma when served cold.

We sell one firkin of our beer each year but choose to use kegs as it suits the styles of beers better for example our Henley Gold is a hefeweizen and you don't get may cask weiss beers. however you could argue that the party 9's we sell are "cask condition" as they act in the same way as a cask so I guess we do do cask(I know I said do do!!)

CAMRA has done some great work, recently they have been fighting against the pub tie, one of the biggest killers of local pubs out there.

It just kills me when I go to GBBF and see them pumping compressed air into kegs of quality beer, force spoiling them because of their refusal to serve the beer the way the brewer designed it, and re-enforcing the keg=bad mantra!!

Should it not be up to the brewer/brewery to decide how they want their product dispensed and what's best for the beer they worked on and designed?

I know that there is a big fear that if keg is let back into the fold then we will be going back to the rubbish beer of the 70's. I think that is rubbish, we live in an age where the consumer is king and people will simply not buy rubbish.

Jason Stevenson
Lovibonds Brewery

Rabidbarfly said...

Jason, thanks for your comments, if I'd known you sold firkins, I'd have ordered some before now!
This is clearly a topic that gets people talking so I'm going to attempt to find out what 'craft brewers' and a 'craft beers' are.
Loving the passion here folks, keep it up, the industry needs people like you!