Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cask Phased Out?


I read a tweet the other day from some geezer or other. It was re-tweeted by someone else, as these things are. It said in essence that BrewDog are going to phase out cask beer from next year. I asked the originator, copied to the others, including I think BrewDog James, if that was true, but in the time honoured Twitter "being of the moment" and therefore transient, nobody has replied.

This morning I read on Pencil and Spoon of the opening of BrewDog Camden, which like the others offers no cask beer. Mark praises its reasonable prices (apparently you get change from a tenner for most bottles, so that's  good) and compares it to Craft, which in my humble opinion is absolutely incongruous. Limiting itself to keg beer, served in uber trendy surroundings, to skinny twenty to thirty year olds can never be compared directly to Craft, which has a much broader appeal, a much wider range of beer and beer styles and is above all, a pub and has all the inclusiveness you go to a pub for. It sells cask beer too, in case no-one noticed.

As an aside, there is little doubt that some new bars (and Manchester is full of them) are great places to go and remarkably inclusive. A trip to Chorlton to see how it should be done is a must. Here in the Grim North, we do things differently it seems. Our trendy young people mix and match beers easily in the same bar and customers, while generally young, are leavened by the odd old git, happily enjoying the offer. Almost all of the really successful bars in Manchester serve excellent and well chosen cask to complement their keg offerings. That's good isn't it? I have wondered before and wonder again, just how successful the new BrewDog Manchester will be when it opens next year, offering keg only in such a cask bastion as Manchester?

Anyway, I have wandered a little from my original point. BrewDog bars are different. They are in effect tied houses, that choose as company policy, not to sell the company's cask products. Now I will happily say that I think BrewDog's cask beer offerings are generally superb. I remember some wonderful pints of Trashy Blonde and Alice Porter. I really think they should do more, not less of them. While I might speculate that more profitable keg to offset less profitable supermarket beer is one reason, the real point of this is, does anyone know if the rumour is actually true?

I certainly hope not.

Amazingly I got an invite to the formal opening of BrewDog Camdem. Cool or what?

27 comments:

Erlangernick said...

My only non-bottled BrewDog beer sampling was one of Punk in a countryside Welsh pub a year and a half ago. It was outstanding, better and more complex than the bottled stuff. Would love to be able to compare it to other proper Brit IPAs.

Why they would want to be so "stifling to creativity" is beyond me.

John B said...

Posed this same question to a NE (Scotland) publican who sells both keg and cask. He asked BrewDog direct and was told that they would continue to supply him with both.

Barm said...

I have heard this rumour too. It wouldn't surprise me in the least. Mind you, who cares what Brewdog do?

Steve Lamond said...

I will ask on wednesday, but with capacity an issue at the brewery perhaps its easier to concentrate on keg for the time being

Ed said...

I've had brewdog beers on cask a few times at festivals and they've all been poor quality.

Matt Gorecki said...

It's true, they'll be dropping all cask beer at the start of 2012, trashy will be replaced and Alice porter will be dropped.

I've mixed feelings as Alice was only intended as a one off and has gone on to so many great things so I'm pleased about that, on the other hand Brewdog cask moves so much quicker in North than keg so I'm not entirely convinced as to the wisdom of the move.

I suspect it's just business, they need to fulfil bottling commitments and do the global volume

Tandleman said...

Matt. I know you are in the trade but you need to do better than that given another earlier response, also from the trade. Source etc. needed.

Matt Gorecki said...

Direct from Sales... Got an email last week

John Clarke said...

Well at least it will mean we won't have another BrewDog / GBBF fiasco.

Phil said...

Barm - I've been quite pleasantly surprised at the lack of attention BD have got lately; that one with the stag's head hardly made a ripple. But I do still care about the blighters, because I've had some really great cask beers from them (not sure if they were especially different from the ones Ed had or if we just have especially different tastes). And I do specify cask - the bottled & kegged stuff I've had from them hasn't been anywhere near as good. If they are killing off cask, it makes my life that bit easier - I can go over to ignoring them completely - but it does seem a bit of a shame. Ce sont fous ces ecossais...

Mark said...

No comparison to Craft in my post. Just a mention that BrewDog and Craft will be the go-to beer venues. Nothing to do with similarities in surrounding or whatever.

Why does it matter if they don't brew or sell cask beer?! I agree that Trashy can be excellent on cask but I've probably seen it just once this year.

You say that these 'trendy young people' you see in Manchester switch between cask and keg beer so what difference will it make if BrewDog only do keg - those trendy folk can drink great cask in any number of other pubs nearby. If the restaurant I go to doesn't do chips and I really want to eat chips then I'll go to another one that does sell chips.

Rob Nicholson said...

We went in 57 Thomas Street in Manchester yesterday and and then walked straight out. Primarily because they didn't serve wine (!) but also because it was so busy it was uncomfortable. So obviously not selling wine wasn't hurting them...

John Clarke said...

"...those trendy folk can drink great cask in any number of other pubs nearby"

Well no, because apart from the Port Street Beer House, there are not really any other pubs selling "great cask" in the vicinity of the proposed BrewDog Manchester. In fact it's a bit out on a limb really so unless it creates its own vibe it may struggle.

Erlangernick said...

Had a bottle of Paradox Smokehead last night. Would've been fantastic if it hadn't been for the intrusion of nasty whisky notes, but was in any case better than I'd expected.

Not for every day, nor for *drinking*, mind, rather for occasional sipping.

Tandleman said...

Mark - Indeed you didn't compare diectly. Sorry for saying you did, but you do speak about them in the same breath as it were.

My point about not selling cask is not that you can get it elsewhere therefore it doesn't matter, but the principle behind why they don't and won't. And more particularly why their excellent casks beers are denied me.

Rob: Umm

Des de Moor said...

Lots to agree with here -- not yet sampled BD Camden (it's on my itinerary in the next few days for updates to my book) but an occasional old git enjoying a Redwillow IPA among the skinny trendies at the Font by Deansgate station the other day, and being made to feel most welcome by the friendly bar staff, I appreciate the Manchester way of doing things. But then that's Manchester for you, folk are less self-conscious and more friendly than down here anyway. Also agree that BD cask beers can be cracking and think they'd be shooting themselves in the foot if they stopped producing them. That is if they could get their feet out of their mouths first.

Des de Moor said...
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Phil said...

Why does it matter if they don't brew or sell cask beer?

Because, on a good day, they're truly great cask brewers - up there with Thornbridge and Dark Star. If they're turning their back on something they do really well, that's not only a bad thing in itself but a depressing sign that they're starting to believe their own cask-bashing bullshit.

(And nobody is telling me that £3.95 is a reasonable price for a pint of the brewer's own, not even in central London.)

Curmudgeon said...

"nobody is telling me that £3.95 is a reasonable price for a pint of the brewer's own, not even in central London"

Hmm, when I can pay £3.00 for a pint of 4.2% Robbies' Unicorn in Greater Manchester, is £3.95 for a pint of 5.6% Punk IPA in central London really that dear?

HardKnott Dave said...

We have been told by Josie, our BrewDog rep, probably everyone's BrewDog rep, that they will indeed be stopping making cask altogether in the New Year.

Can't get a much better source than that.

For us too it's a shame. We did sell a little bit of BrewDog but here in Cumbria there is little call for BrewDog on keg.

Tandleman said...

Thanks Dave and others. So that seems conclusive. What a shower. More from me on this tomorrow.

Barry said...

No cask? Brewdog, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

Phil said...

Mudge - basically, I wouldn't expect to pay more than £3.50 a pint routinely for anything anywhere (and I have drunk beer in central London). I might go up to £4 (or £2 a half) for something rare & unusual & strong, but pricing just about everything in the region of £4 says "rip-off" to me. All the more so given that they're serving this fancy modern beer that never goes flat, never goes sour, doesn't need cellaring and can be served by anyone who can press a switch - they should be able to do that for less, surely?

RedNev said...

I liked Trashy Blonde, which I've only found twice, but I haven't come across any other Brewdog products. So - from my perspective - one nice beer disappearing isn't a catastrophe, and I suspect that's probably a greater reaction than you'll get from most beer drinkers in pubs.

Tandleman said...

Phil. Sadly they are crazy despite being Scottish, not because of it.

Anonymous said...

Brew dog have not got the skill nor the patience to brew propa cask ale, dirty filtered keg is more there style. anon

Curmudgeon said...

According to this article (which is quite interesting in its own right) "Williams Brothers’ on-trade focus from next year will be keg beer, although they’ll still be making plenty of cask ale."