Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cask vs the World

Let me get something straight right now, I like cask conditioned beer, I also love lager, oh and I love stout and porter. Thinking about it, I love beer FULL STOP. While I think the term 'craft beer' is pretty much meaningless drivel, the beers which bear that tag are some of my favourite beers to drink, whether from a bottle or, preferably, on draught in the pub. Yes sir I am a beer drinker and it is because I am a beer drinker that there are times that I despair at the collective antics of the various 'consumer organisations' and brewers on both sides of the 'cask vs craft keg' debate.

Whilst on Twitter this morning, Martyn Cornell tweeted about a page on Cask Ale Week's website, which claims that:
keg beers, smooth beers, craft beers, lagers and stouts are different from cask beers. They:-
  • Are all brewery conditioned: they undergo only one fermentation and are then pasteurised
  • Are filtered so they contain no live yeast
  • Have gas added in order to give them a fizz or a ‘smooth’ texture
  • Can be identified by the type of font or tap (they are served by switching on rather than pulling through) on the bar, and the straight sided containers in the cellar.
  • Are usually served at a chilled 6 degrees centigrade
  • May be served ‘extra-cold’ at 0 to 5 degrees centigrade
Now, you can see that a lot of this is just bullshit straight off the bat, but as someone who works, albeit part-time and only in the tasting room, in a 'craft' brewery I can confirm that Starr Hill Brewing Company does not pasteurise their beer. Thinking about it, Devils Backbone don't pasteurise either, I guess they aren't 'craft'.

But if you read the entirety of that page, you see a very snide and malicious attempt to set up cask ale as somehow natural and healthy as opposed to evil, industrial "keg beers, smooth beers, craft beers, lagers and stouts", especially as cask ale is made from "4 wholesome ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and yeast". Can we assume therefore that no cask ales have brewing sugars in them, or is this simply misinformation?

As I said at the top of this post, I am a beer drinker, not a cask drinker, keg drinker or craft drinker. I have drunk some absolutely cracking cask ales as much as some which were downright awful, just as I have had both great and undrinkable 'craft' beer. The method of dispense and market positioning of a brewery are irrelevant, it is what is in the glass that is important, how it tastes and whether I enjoy it.

Surely this sniping and attempts at point scoring against other parts of the industry has got to stop and people need to realise that at the end of the day we are all on the same side - the side of good beer.

Without it we are in danger of becoming the zythophilic version of this:




UPDATE: The text above has been changed to the following:
Keg beers, smooth beers, craft beers, lagers and stouts are different from cask beers. They:-
  • The vast majority are brewery conditioned, undergoing only one fermentation and then pasteurisation
  • Nearly all are filtered so they contain no live yeast
  • Most have gas added in order to give them a fizz or a ‘smooth’ texture
  • Can usually be identified by the type of font or tap (they are served by switching on rather than pulling through) on the bar, and the straight sided containers in the cellar.
  • Are usually served at a chilled 6 degrees centigrade
  • May be served ‘extra-cold’ at 0 to 5 degrees centigrade

I would still question the veracity of the claim that the vast majority of craft beers are pasteurised, I can't think of a single one off the top of my head, but at least it is no longer a blanket claim.

UPDATE 2 - the above text has been amended again so that only "Keg beers, smooth beers, lagers and stouts..." do through these evil processes. Better not mention that Bernard lagers are all unpasteurised or I fear heads will explode.

4 comments:

  1. We've got a post brewing (might be tomorrow) on 'pure beer', 'whole food' and the move towards all malt beers in the early 70s. As far as we can tell, almost all British beer worth drinking before then contained sugar, but it got written out of history when microbrewing kicked off. Sugar's not (just?) a cost-saving adjunct, it's vital in achieving particular effects of flavour and body.

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  2. Ha, they keep changing the text... One thing that is still quite bizarre (at time of writing) is the inclusion of 'stout' within the 'keg' category of beers.

    So cask stout doesn't exist? What?

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    Replies
    1. Cask stouts are porters, don't you know?

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  3. If only they had listened to Uncle Tanders.

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