Monday, 10 August 2009

Autovacs


Or economisers as they are otherwise known, are still in use in some parts of the country, mainly Yorkshire. What are they and how do they work? "Beer economisers enable beer which overspills during dispense to be re-introduced into the dispensing pump where it is mixed with beer freshly drawn from the cask. In some cases the beer is filtered before it is re-introduced, in other devices no filtering takes place. In some cases the device re-introduces beer which has been deliberately spilt during the process of achieving a light creamy head, in other cases, beer which has been overspilled unintentionally is collected and resyphoned back into the next glass of beer. The prime aim of such devices is to prevent wastage of the beer by overspill."

On our recent trip to Holmfirth, Yorkshire, Bradfield Farmer's Blonde was presented thus. (Sorry I can't remember the pub name.) The picture, taken by me at the time, shows the settling process, down to a perfect head. These devices don't suit everyone and need a fair bit of skill in pouring, but you get a great tight, creamy head.

20 comments:

Bailey said...

I had some Summer Lightning in Salisbury served that way -- opaque at first, like a glass of milk, but eventually sorted itself out.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

When I were a young 'un all the slops went into the barrel of mild.
ALL the slops.

Karen and Mark said...

The last time I saw one of those was in Wales some 20 years ago. The beer cascaded over the rim of the glass, rippling attractively over the pourers fingers before arriving in the pristine stainless trough for return to the cask. Lovely! Are bar staff forced to wear plastic gloves these days?

Tandleman said...

Prof - freshly overfowed beer ain't slops.

K&M - The following should apply:

a clean glass every time;
sufficient glass washing facilities to allow a clean glass every time, including in busy periods;

approved glass washing and sterilising machines must be used;

scrupulous hand hygiene by bar staff is essential;

a strict cleaning regime must be enforced in respect of beer pumps, pipes and ancillary equipment

ChrisM said...

I am in two minds about Autovacs. One of my favourite pubs, the Fighting Cock in Bradford, uses them for all their beer, and a pint is pulled vigorously with approximately another pint allowed to overspill. I would argue that it knocks a lot of condition out of the beer, continuously being 'recycled', as it were, but it works really well for some beers (particularly Timothy Taylor's Best Bitter and Ram Tam). Another pub that uses them is Brigantes Bar in York, but it is used here purely to collect slops.

I'm not against the devices as long as the fresh beer is reintroduced: I AM against any system that reintroduces old beer back into the cask (even some GBG pubs still do this).

You have to admit, though, that the accompanying photo is a sight to behold: a proper Yorkshire pint!

Barm said...

I had thought these were illegal now. Is it just putting slops back into the cask that's illegal?

Dubbel said...

I had no idea this went on! Being a sheltered southerner and all. I'm amazed this still passes health and safety legislation. I would not be happy drinking my beer that way.

And that photo looks like a parody of a northern pint!

Tandleman said...

Southern Jessie. Clean beer, clean hands, clean glass = no problem and the beer was delicious.

PS - The offer still stands.

Erlangernick said...

That's fucking nasty! Now I'm going to have to call every pub I plan to visit next week and ask them if they do this.

Barm said...

What IS it about Yorkshire that all manner of weird gadgets are thought necessary for dispensing beer?

JOHNG said...

i REMEMBER THIS SYSTEM FROM THE CLEP BAR IN DUNDEE.DID IT WORK ON CASK OR KEG BEER AND DO CAMRA RECOGNISE THIS SYSTEM FOR CASK BEERS.USED TO PRODUCE A GREAT PINT ANYWAY.

RedNev said...

I thought, obviously wrongly, that these things had been discontinued. There's no good excuse for them and they should be banned as unhygienic. I don't want to drink beer that has flowed over someone else's fingers. Once beer has come out of the pump, it should either go down a throat or down a drain. Busy bar staff will not wash their hands on every single occasion they handle dirty money that may have passed through dozens of hands, collect dirty glasses, and clear away crisp packets and other rubbish. It is an outdated practice that would probably discourage anyone from trying real ale for the first time.

Northerner said...

Whether or not it makes a pretty pint, anything with a good hop character must never be poured in such a way. Imagine doing this to a pint of Hophead or Marble beer! Butchery is the word that sums it up. And as for hygiene...having said this, don't Fanny's near Bradford have the autovac system? Unfortunately they do a great pint of Golden best.

Tandleman said...

RedNev - I am sure you have had beer from them in the past and you are still here. I doubt severely if it will do any harm, though I must say, I wouldn't be installing one if I ran a pub. It's just counter intuitive these days.

Northerner - Destroying your own argument here methinks.

Tyson said...

Just to point out the rather obvious. People may think they are unhygenic but they're not. As we know, regulations are tighter than ever and if there was any doubt about them, they would be banned. All the Environmental Officers I've spoken to about them are completely ok with them.

RedNev said...

Ah, Tyson: you're saying officialdom is always right? As an ex-bureaucrat, thanks, but sadly I know it's not true! Regulations may be tighter than ever, but enforcement is another matter.

Tandleman: the fact that I haven't keeled over does not negate my argument. It may simply show that I have quite a strong constitution. I find the autovac unappealing and I'd prefer not to drink beer so served. Clearly I'm not alone.

Paul Garrard said...

Hmmm, I don't see how they could possibly be hygenic!

Karen and Mark said...

Clearly they're not, but sometimes it's the presentation, liberally laced with nostalgia that's more important than a bacteria-free pint. The Food Police will get round to this one eventually, and Northern Men will be seen weeping into their non-creamy pints... which is probably un-hygienic too!

Tandleman said...

The weeping or the non creamy? The latter obviously.

RedNev

You could always have gone to the keg social club next door in the case in point, but I fancy you'd have swallowed both pride and bacteria and supped the Bradfield with me, (-;

Cooking Lager said...

Thank god I steer clear of pubs, if this goes on.

Better off with a can of Carlsberg.