OK. Let's nail my colours firmly to the mast. I believe in sparkled beer, but most of all I believe in well conditioned beer. Sometimes there is confusion between the two so let's try and sort the wheat from the chaff. A list of beer facts:
- good conditioned beer needs no sparkler - TRUE - but it will enhance mouthfeel and aroma to some perceptions and will adversely affect it to others
- a sparkler knocks out all the condition from beer - FALSE - it will displace some C02 from body to head, but won't knock out the condition to a detrimental effect unless the beer is poorly conditioned in the first place
- a sparkler will change the flavour of the beer - FALSE - it may change the flavour perception but this will vary from beer to beer depending on circumstance
- a sparkler will bring flat beer to life. FALSE. Flat beer will still be flat. Once the initial head has gone, the beer will be as flat or indeed flatter
It's all about conditioning really. Get the beer in good condition, full of natural CO2 (but not overly so) and really, after that, it is down to how you prefer it No-one doubts that mouthfeel, flavour and other variables taste different with or without a sparkler. The issue is whether they can be proved to be better or worse by a particular method. My assertion is that all things being otherwise equal, it comes down to preference. I prefer sparkled beer, but it must have the condition and not be served too warm. Too warm a serving temperature and too little condition are the enemy of cask beer. The latter two statements are also beer FACTS as they have been proved to be true scientifically. Warm temperatures cause dissolved C02 to return to atmosphere and too little condition will have the same flattening effect on beer. Don't believe me? Read "Beer and the Science of Brewing by Charles Bamforth. I have a signed and dedicated copy. Another beer fact!
* What is a sparkler? Sparklers are the devices on the end of the handpump serving spout that create tiny gas bubbles that form the creamy head on a pint in served in the North of England and increasingly commonly according to some, in the South of England.