CAMRA chairman angry at BA magazine article

Reads 24594 • Replies 192 • Started Sunday, May 29, 2011 3:15:27 AM CT

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cgarvieuk
beers 35050 º places 453 º 11:16 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by JorisPPattyn

All true.
Yet, the whole British brewers’ world is still riddled with notions that were obsolete at the end of WWII - and I’m not referring to cask ale, this time (before somebody blows his top - there’s nothing obsolete to cask ale, IMO!).
Ask any brewer in the UK (OK, I might have to skip BrewDog, Meantime and suchlike suspect characters) what is truly the best malt, and he’ll blurt "Maris Otter". I have no qualms that it was, once.
And very well-known UK beer writers - not to mention the brewers again - still adhere to the urban myth that on the "Continent" (another of those marvellous words), decoction is used because of the poor quality of the "Continental" malts...



Id agree there the UK market was very staid. But its getting better.
But just because its stagnent doesnt make all the beer bad.
Id hate to see all the New Wave beers replace the more tradional ’boring’ beers.

I want both. I want big IPA’s, I want high and heavy ABV stouts, but i also want a 4% malty bitter, or golden ale, i want a 3.4% mild.

Id love to see ALL UK brewers brewing more styles. Hell there enough that dont even produce a stout in there range, or if it is its seasonal. I may not be normal, but i want to have a nice stout all year round. Hell its not like we have many sunny days anyway up here

 
SilkTork
beers 7343 º places 109 º 11:24 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by JorisPPattyn

Yet, the whole British brewers’ world is still riddled with notions that were obsolete at the end of WWII ...

Ask any brewer in the UK ... what is truly the best malt, and he’ll blurt "Maris Otter"....



Yes, and given how little is now produced, there must be a lot of truth embellishment going on, given how many brewers claim to be using it.

 
chriso
beers 7540 º places 736 º 11:36 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by SamGamgee
I just think that you can systematically tear down the rhetoric when you put it up against reality. Keg as practiced in the past and by big brewers in the UK might not be what CAMRA likes, but keg is not inherently like that and can come close to being simply cask beer that does not oxidize when tapped, which is really what every brewer and publican likely wants.

I see your point here. The objection surely cannot be to the presence of CO2 in the beer per se because that is what is carbonating the beer if it is undergoing a secondary fermentation. It came about because, to quote CAMRA’s description again, ALL keg beer was killed by filtration & pasteurisation and "made fizzy with excess carbon dioxide". Presumably the fizz level was generally, and objectionably, higher than would be obtained from natural secondary fermentation, possibly for reasons of ease of dispense or maybe some other reason that the brewers found beneficial to their commercial interests. That was certainly the situation way back when and still is for much of the mass-produced keg beer in the UK today. But it is not always the case. I recently had the opportunity to taste a couple of beers from the Moor brewery from keg (but unfiltered, unpasteurised and conditioned in the keg) alongside their equivalents served from cask in the "normal" way and they were virtually indistinguishable. The keg version was certainly not noticeably fizzier than the cask. But, of course, the keg version could never qualify as "real ale" because of the "extraneous" CO2 involved in the dispense.

 
harrisoni
beers 24681 º places 68 º 12:04 Tue 5/31/2011

Thanks to everyone in the past 5 pages or so who have made sense of this issue.

I must admit, my additions earlier on were driven by passion, love and anger rather than by rational thought.

But the last few pages, where there is learned and reasoned exchange of information was really interesting and educational.

Cheers (drinking a bottle conditioned foreign muck beer)

 
SilkTork
beers 7343 º places 109 º 12:32 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by SamGamgee


I just think that you can systematically tear down the rhetoric when you put it up against reality. Keg as practiced in the past and by big brewers in the UK might not be what CAMRA likes, but keg is not inherently like that and can come close to being simply cask beer that does not oxidize when tapped, which is really what every brewer and publican likely wants.


That’s interesting. I think there is as much misunderstanding about "keg" as there is about "cask".

Generally what is understood (or misunderstood) by the term "keg beer" is that it is filtered and force carbonated. I have tried in my comments on this issue to avoid using the term keg as it is a vague term that doesn’t describe or define the beer itself. When people in the UK use the term keg they generally are thinking of filtered beer. When people in the USA use the term keg they are simply thinking of the container rather than the state of the beer within. I think it is only in Belgium and the UK that there is such a concern regarding if a beer is filtered or not.

 
JorisPPattyn
beers 13046 º places 88 º 13:03 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by SilkTork
Originally posted by SamGamgee


I just think that you can systematically tear down the rhetoric when you put it up against reality. Keg as practiced in the past and by big brewers in the UK might not be what CAMRA likes, but keg is not inherently like that and can come close to being simply cask beer that does not oxidize when tapped, which is really what every brewer and publican likely wants.


That’s interesting. I think there is as much misunderstanding about "keg" as there is about "cask".

Generally what is understood (or misunderstood) by the term "keg beer" is that it is filtered and force carbonated. I have tried in my comments on this issue to avoid using the term keg as it is a vague term that doesn’t describe or define the beer itself. When people in the UK use the term keg they generally are thinking of filtered beer. When people in the USA use the term keg they are simply thinking of the container rather than the state of the beer within. I think it is only in Belgium and the UK that there is such a concern regarding if a beer is filtered or not.




Hmmmm. UK >>> Belgium.

 
Erlangernick
beers 6 º places 2 º 15:15 Tue 5/31/2011

I still want some real data on American "cask-conditioned" beer: is it really cask-conditioned as CAMRA would define it or is it just regular kegged beer run through a beer engine like people who knew better than I did used to tell me back when I lived there?

I want to know, because I find a substantial difference between cask beer in good condition in English pubs and that I’ve had in US pubs.

And yes, to the average American, I think "keg beer" just means it’s packaged in a keg.

And filtered beer gets criticised in certain beer circles in Germany too, FWIW. One of the top 2 or 3 beers in the country is unfiltered and served from a 1000L bag inside a tank pressurised by an air compressor, natural carbonation: Roppelt’s Kellerbier. The other two top 2 or 3 are served under gravity at the Griess Keller and Witzgall Keller.

Meh, the Altbier(s) aren’t too bad either, but probably filtered even though served under gravity.

Enough rambling, time for bed.

 
hopscotch
beers 11919 º places 307 º 15:29 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by Erlangernick
I still want some real data on American "cask-conditioned" beer: is it really cask-conditioned as CAMRA would define it or is it just regular kegged beer run through a beer engine like people who knew better than I did used to tell me back when I lived there?

Much of the cask beer I’ve tried in the U.S. is exactly that... from a metal or plastic keg. Not good. Simply not force-carbonated. Sometimes filtered; sometimes not. Served at bath-water temps. Bleh.

 
SilkTork
beers 7343 º places 109 º 16:15 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by hopscotch
Originally posted by Erlangernick
I still want some real data on American "cask-conditioned" beer: is it really cask-conditioned as CAMRA would define it or is it just regular kegged beer run through a beer engine like people who knew better than I did used to tell me back when I lived there?

Much of the cask beer I’ve tried in the U.S. is exactly that... from a metal or plastic keg. Not good. Simply not force-carbonated. Sometimes filtered; sometimes not. Served at bath-water temps. Bleh.


It’s worth bearing in mind that only two (maybe three) brewers in the UK regularly use wooden casks. Casks in the UK are metal or sometimes plastic. At a glance keg and cask containers look the same, but casks have an extra hole on the side, they bulge somewhat in the middle, and the opening at the top will be near the side rather than in the middle.

The reason for the hole and the bulge, etc, is that the cask will be lain on its side, with the hole in the side facing upwards. The hole in the side (which is now the top) is to allow air in so that beer can be drawn out. The slight bulge is to collect the yeast sludge. The reason the hole on what was the top is near what is now the bottom edge, is because that will serve as the tap for the beer which will collect at the bottom. It will either be a gravity tap, or be connected to a tube for the beer engine which is simply a water pump - the handle pulls a piston which draws up the beer through a one way valve to the bar tap. If the cask wasn’t vented to allow air in, then no more beer could be pulled out of the cask. The pump handle and the pumping process will have some impact on the flavour and character of the beer, and there is much talk in the UK about the size of the holes in the tap, and the shape of the faucet. Some brewers and drinkers prefer small holes because that creates a dense head, though reduces hop aroma. Some drinkers prefer their beer served by gravity direct from the cask as this disturbs the beer the least and has a softer, more natural mouthfeel. Some of these preferences are probably down to habit and association. If you have spent most of your life drinking crisply carbonated beer then you will have grown accustomed to it, and will prefer it. If you have spent your life drinking softly carbonated beer, then you will be accustomed to that and will prefer it.

 
SamGamgee99
23:01 Tue 5/31/2011

Originally posted by Erlangernick
I still want some real data on American "cask-conditioned" beer: is it really cask-conditioned as CAMRA would define it or is it just regular kegged beer run through a beer engine like people who knew better than I did used to tell me back when I lived there?

I want to know, because I find a substantial difference between cask beer in good condition in English pubs and that I’ve had in US pubs.

And yes, to the average American, I think "keg beer" just means it’s packaged in a keg.

And filtered beer gets criticised in certain beer circles in Germany too, FWIW. One of the top 2 or 3 beers in the country is unfiltered and served from a 1000L bag inside a tank pressurised by an air compressor, natural carbonation: Roppelt’s Kellerbier. The other two top 2 or 3 are served under gravity at the Griess Keller and Witzgall Keller.

Meh, the Altbier(s) aren’t too bad either, but probably filtered even though served under gravity.

Enough rambling, time for bed.

From what I’ve seen (not a lot on the brewery side but a fair amount behind the bar), cask in the US is usually served from a firkin through a hand pump or gravity fed on the bar. In many cases breathers are used if a bar does casks regularly. I don’t blame them as the normal demand for cask is still not high enough in most cases to get through a whole cask without a breather sustaining it. So from the bar side, things are similar to the UK except that casks are often not given the proper stationary time to drop bright before tapping, leading to more hazy cask ale in my experience.

From the brewery side, things get less traditional in many cases. You’ll often find carbonated beer filled into casks and shipped off to the pub the next day. Even if the beer was naturally tank-carbonated, I don’t think this is "real ale," and it might also be filtered or a mix of filtered and carbonated beer with unfiltered and uncarbonated beer. This last technique is used because it gives the beer some yeast and a slight haze and lowers the carbonation so that you can use your regular filtered and carbonated beer for keg and just blend in the right proportion of beer right off the fermentor for the appropriate lower level of carbonation.

Then you do have some brewers that either krausen or prime or rack at a certain gravity to achieve actual conditioning in the cask, which is what I expect most UK brewers to in order to meet CAMRA’s standards.

My experience talking to UK brewers lead to to believe that they usually rack before terminal gravity and let the last few points of fermentation carbonate the cask internally. I bet some US brewers do this, but I have no first-hand experience with it.

I think that the majority of the time the deficiencies that we experience with cask beer in the US are due to lack of turnover and lack of proper cellaring. Brewers are perfectly capable of producing good casks and often do, even if they are not strictly "real ale." Pubs really need the demand and experience to serve them properly and this just isn’t the case in the cask majority of establishments. We’re getting better though.