Saturday, 21 August 2010

Some Like It Hot

I have moaned about warm beer in London before, so you'll know what to expect. More moans about warm beer in case you can't work it out. Firstly background. Cask conditioning when done properly for everyday drinking beers, is the finest way of presenting beer. When not done properly it is dire.

Warmth is the enemy of cask conditioning. It is physics pure and simple. At higher temperatures, CO2 is less soluble in liquid. Everyone knows that don't they? Everyone except London publicans that is. Last night in the Dispensary my beer was an astonishing 17.6C. That's warm. This is CAMRA East London's Pub of the Year 2009. Hmm. It makes the Bree Louise's 15C seem positively arctic. Of course in both cases the beer was flabby and unpalatable. At over £3 a go, this isn't acceptable.

So naturally we left there and heading home, had a pint in JDW's Goodman's Field. Saltaire Blonde at a perfect 12C and a world of difference in price and quality. It just needed a sparkler for complete enjoyment. A curry was called for and when E went home to warm the plates and set the table, while it was being cooked, I nipped into the Brown Bear. I didn't fancy London Pride or Doom Bar and the taster I had of Wyre Piddle in the Leaves confirmed this brewery fully deserve its "avoid" status on my mental list of micros. I beat a hasty retreat to the Empress of Prussia, a Shep's tied house. It was empty apart from me. The Master Brew was also a perfect 12C, full of condition and tasted bloody awful. With stewed tea tannins and harsh hop oils, it was a hard to drink mess.

So there you are. One decent drink out of four in the capital. Today's another day though and a chance for all to be redeemed. E wants to go shopping in Covent Garden. We'll no doubt have a drink after. I'll have my Cask Marque thermometer with me and will report back.


Curmudgeon said...

I completely agree with you on this. Are these thermometers commercially available?

But is there not a risk of making you look like an arse when using it?

Tyson said...


Too late...!

Tandleman said...

Mudgie you are right. If you sat at the bar with a thermometer dipped in the beer you might get a bit of reaction. I just find a quiet corner, do it quickly - it doesn't take more than 30 seconds and that's that.

It is a bit anal, but on the other hand, I regard it as a bit of investigative journalism and a public service. It shouldn't be needed.

I bought my thermometer as part of my cellar kit, directly from Cask Marque.

Tyson - Story of my life.

Bailey said...

I'm not sure Londoners do prefer their pints warmer, they just don't get much choice. If it's not actually warm beer, it's often piping hot, just-cleaned glasses. Bah.

Rabidbarfly said...

I don't want warm beer, even on an arctic day! Beer should be cold, does this make me a northerner? Lord I hope not! ;-)

Erlangernick said...

Beer should be cool, not cold. 12° *sounds* too cool to me; I'll have to bring my own digitherm along on my next trip. Just to calibrate myself, to be able to say, "ah, that's what 13.3° bitter feels like." (Hope it clears security.)

And I'll use it --proudly-- right at the bar! I'm a foreigner, so I can.

Are cellars really that cool in Britain? And what's a cellar kit?

Paul Bailey said...

Sheps full of "stewed tea tannins and harsh hop oils". Sounds about right; now you know why I avoid the stuff like the plague!!