Monday, 2 January 2012

A Popular Misconception

As the Cask Report has amply illustrated, there are only two growth areas in the on trade beer market, the so called "craft sector" and good old real ale, or cask conditioned beer.  Real Ale is everywhere and the cask bandwagon eclipses by far the growing keg "revolution" (let's call it a keg "revolution", as by almost every definition, most craft beer in the UK is cask.)

The year just gone has seen an expansion - some call it an explosion of craft beer bars. Explosion would probably be pushing it. It isn't even an explosion in London given the size of it and the relatively small numbers, though London is at last awake and thinking of beer. This trend in London will continue, as that's where the numbers are and more importantly, that's where the money is and it is a good thing. It is too where the momentum is.  Craft beer bars will push the envelope in other places, as there is money to be made there too, but they will be limited by population and by lack of such well padded wallets. They will appear though and provide choice.  Choice, repeat, is good.

So, if it is such a good thing - and it is in my view - why all the fuss about CAMRA and its attitude to keg beer? Shouldn't CAMRA be praising and supporting it all? To some extent it does. Long since forgotten by many, but among CAMRA principles is the promoting of choice. So, to that extent, there can be little against what is happening now can there? Well, as always it isn't as simple as that. The reason why CAMRA campaigns for real ale - cack handedly at times admittedly - is because CAMRA fights to protect the availability of live beer in the UK. It doesn't, or maybe that would be better as "shouldn't" (and some members need to be reminded of this) fight against other beers or dispense methods, except where that limits choice. Hang onto that choice thing. It is important.

The better amongst these new bars (and sometimes pubs) the Port Street Beer Houses, Euston and Sheffield Taps and the Crafts of this world, mix easily the two genres of imported expensive bottles, keykeg versions of stronger British beers and well chosen and more reasonably priced cask, and are a delight to drink in. The arguments about which type of beer is better is not really relevant there and drinkers mix easily and happily and switch from one to the other as they see fit. Nothing at all wrong with that. In fact quite the reverse. It isn't all that new either, as bars like, say, Fringe in Manchester have been doing it unsung for years, though of course with imported keg products, the British alternative, simply being unavailable.

"But the fight for real ale is won" I hear you cry. Well no. Cask beer is a niche drink, albeit a pretty big niche, but to maintain it there needs eternal vigilance. While cask beer may have an ascendency and CAMRA have a large and growing membership, we must always recognise that like any niche product, real ale is under threat. It is a live and perishable product and that makes it vulnerable to quality issues and the convenience of keg. Also, most of us in the Campaign can remember when we didn't have hundreds of breweries, when choice was hugely limited, when keg and cask were sold through identical pumps, when cask beer took a huge downward turn after the beer orders. We don't want these times again and that's why we fight to protect our kind of beer. I'd hazard a guess that it is why CAMRA has both a growing membership and an increasing retention rate. Despite JDW vouchers (most of which are never used), it is that feeling of supporting something you intrinsically believe in, as you have a sneaking suspicion, that it might disappear if you don't, that results in retention being so high.

Boak and Bailey talk about "thin end of the wedge" in somewhat mocking tones, as if such a thing doesn't exist, or is an imagined bogey man. In the meantime, two producers of excellent cask conditioned beer have announced they will no longer do so. While you can disregard BrewDog and Camden as minnows, they are influential enough to some drinkers and very well thought of by others - well Camden is anyway. That alone should set alarm bells ringing. They are choosing, as is their right, to restrict what they produce, despite these products being beers that sell well and have a keen following across a broad spectrum. Is that the thin end of the wedge? Will Hardknott, SWB and others follow? Would that be the thin end of a wedge?  These two cases, small though they may be, illustrate why you can never take real ale for granted.

This isn't a peon of praise or support for CAMRA though some will think it. It is a genuine attempt to explain some of the rationale. Inevitably though some responses will be to attack CAMRA, but I'd like you to think more widely about this and watch my blog for a further posting in which you can help CAMRA's thinking on both keg and craft beer. Things are afoot and I'm a part of it, so rather than knee jerk anti CAMRA reactions, have a think about it all.

Remember what I said about choice and not taking things for granted? Of never assuming that fight for choice is won.  It is important to us in the Campaign  to protect our unique cask conditioned beer.  We believe in it and we don't and won't ever assume that it will always be there. It influences greatly how we think.
This, is as always just my thoughts on the subject and my take on CAMRA policy.


jesusjohn said...

I agree wholeheartedly that the defence of cask beer requires eternal vigilance and am in accord that CAMRA should always have that as its No.1 raison d'etre.

However, a modest proposal of mine would be that CAMRA could offer some degree of recognition to non-pasteurised keg beers (a craft keg stand at fests, etc.) *to breweries who have a permanent cask range*.

I'm taken aback by BrewDog's decision. I could understand (though would not necessarily agree) if they felt their beer was being damaged by ending up in dive venues. However, they seemed to put most of their cask Mitchells & Butlers' way - and even then, only in the nicer (usually managed) pubs do they bother with such a range.

It's a shame re. Camden (though having tasted their beer, I'd say the keg efforts are better than the cask brews in any case).

Tandleman said...

The problem is we already have to turn away many brewers who do want to present cask beers at fests and CAMRA is the Campaign FOR Real Ale.

Camden's Inner City Green was excellent.

jesusjohn said...

'CAMRA is the Campaign FOR Real Ale.'

It is and I support that. But thinking politically, I don't think it's sensible for CAMRA to be neutral on a growing segment with a 'cool' vibe and appeal to a - largely - youth audience that brewers would desperately love to court.

I guess my view is that CAMRA's defence of real ale is best advanced by taking a more ecumenical approach to other quality methods of getting beer into my face.

John Clarke said...

Completely agree with all this Tanders old boy. I may adapt it for a certain local CAMRA mag (with the usual acknowledgements of course).

John Clarke said...

Completely agree with all this Tanders old boy. I may adapt it for a certain local CAMRA mag (with the usual acknowledgements of course).

Steve Lamond said...

I have a feeling for both breweries is that they are working at full capacity and keg is easier to handle. Neither have ruled it out all together, just no plans to produce at present,

John Clarke said...

By the way, can't see SWB going down that route. While they experiment with all methods of dispense (and hats off to keg Cohort - one of the beers of the year for me) thay have also made it pretty clear they will continue to make plenty of cask. As for Hardknott - well, who knows - Dave is very much a Brew Dog wannabe so I gues you can't rule anything out there.

Tandleman said...

John - I just used SWB and Hardknott because of what they have said in the past. I hope neither do what BD have done.

Steve - I am sure you are right, but that makes it no better.

Curmudgeon said...

IIRC the Cask Report says that, while cask has gained market share, it hasn't gained absolute volume.

Tandleman said...

I could have and probably should have modified that a touch, but all is clear now.

chriso said...

Good points all, Peter. However, I do wish CAMRA would update the description of keg beer on the website. It's as if it was written in the 70s (it probably was) and all keg beer is the same pasteurised, filtered, over-gassed rubbish now as it was then. It doesn't specifically use the words "all keg is bad" but that's certainly the impression that would be picked up by the casual reader.

TaleOfAle said...

I like to think that as an Irish man, I have a unique perspective when it comes to cask. In Ireland, cask is/was essentially dead. We now have the newer micro breweries doing more and more cask and it is available in more pubs around the larger cities.

I whole heartedtly agree with the preservation of cask ale. I often get "whatever's on cask; when out in Dublin.
That said, I love my legged craft beer an in some cases, cask can be detrimental to a beer.

There is room for both. If Camra concentrates on cask but aknowledges kegged beer from independent (British) breweries, then they have my continued respect.

Tandleman said...

A very good point Chris. I will see if something can be done in due course.

Sid Boggle said...

I've been saying for some time that the keg definition is out of date and needs reviewing and updating. It's one of the reasons I jacked my membership in. I note some time back that Brewdog were using it as a stick to beat CAMRA with as well, as if they needed any encouragement.

Phil said...

I love my legged craft beer

That's the trouble with craft beer, you see - it's so expensive you can only afford to have a couple. With real ale you can afford to get legless.

Pete said...

I get that CAMRA is about it's own definition of "real ale" and so in a sense it's more than welcome to get sniffy about people who want to make craft beer in other ways.

However, I struggle to reconcile that with the fact that, for example, Earl's Court had bars selling cider and perry (always well supported by CAMRA) and foreign (and not "real") beer. If you're going to let in some drinks which aren't real ale, why the lack of love for British brewers who, for whatever reason, prefer keg to cask?

NP said...

Taste, quality and choice are the most important things. I love all kinds of beer and drink a lot of "real ale" but unfortunately a lot of it is bland and samey, whereas it is the "keg" brewers that seem to be producing the more interesting and innovative brews. I would to see more cask brewers like Thornbridge making exciting drinks, and more availability in mainstream pubs. There's a lot more cask ale available near near me than ever before, but sadly most of it seems to be Bombadier.

Rob Nicholson said...

I think it's reasonable to say that the beer enthusiasts we've never had it so good. But we tend to drink in the pubs that serve good beer which gives a rather myopic view of the pub world.

Bailey said...

This all reminds me of a great conversation I had with my dad (who knows I think he's a pessimistic miserable sod):

ME: Ah, the longest day of the year!
DAD: *Sigh*. Yes, son, I'm afraid the nights start drawing in from here on in...

I think we agree that cask ale needs protecting and that a watchful eye should be kept on it -- it's just that we don't agree on when the barricades need to go up. A couple of breweries who were never that committed to cask giving up on it doesn't bother me (only a matter of time, really); a couple more going the same way wouldn't worry me much either.

Bailey said...

PS. JesusJohn's idea for recognising keg breweries with a permanent cask range is a good one, isn't it?

Steve Lamond said...

I'm wondering if the rumblings Peter speaks of is a formal motion to allow keykeg at festivals at the forthcoming AGM? Looking forward to hearing what the technical lot thought.

Tandleman said...

Steve. Nothing like that at all. This is all about relationships and policies. More tomorrow.

Bailey: I guess we'd need to wait on the technical evaluation, but I have no idea.I kind of doubt it though.

Jeff Pickthall said...

"we must always recognise that like any niche product, real ale is under threat."


Where's the Campaign for Real Cheese? The Campaign fro Real Bread? They are also "live and perishable" products vulnerable to "quality issues".

They seem to to just fine without a self-appointed marketing organisation declaring them to be "under threat".

"Threat" isn't a word I would use. It doesn't represent a dispassionate appraisal of the beer market and cask ale's position in it. All I hear in it is a rallying cry for CAMRA, not for the beer. A rhetorical flourish useful for stirring up righteous indignation and swelling CAMRA's membership list.

Other than slim margins, I've long considered the biggest problem cask ale faces is the impediment to growth that is the tie system. Market access for micros is woeful. In its efforts to mollycoddle the regionals CAMRA has long brushed this issue under the carpet. There lies the real threat.

Steve Lamond said...

Not true there Jeff, CAMRA have been campaigning for a while (used a supercomplaint to the OFT no less) to get the tie reformed. The inaction lies with government and the pubcos themselves, rather than CAMRA.

I'm not entirely sure about the family brewers thing either, as a large amount of micro brewers are represented at beer festivals.

Tandleman said...

Jeff. It is indeed a point of view. Not one I share, but a point of view.

As for access to market, I doubt if the Family Brewers with what is it, 4,507 pubs are as big a problem as the remaining 50 odd thousand, though again it is a point of view?

As with the Beer Orders, you have to be careful what you wish for.

Dave Bailey said...

You know what, if nowt else, I'm flattered that Hardknott is included in the post.

For the record, our current cask and bottle conditioned beer volume outstrips keg sales by huge amounts. We put a tiny bit into keg and I really do mean tiny.

We'd like to develop our keg products more, not least because James at BrewDog has asked us if he can have some for his BrewDog bars. They are good folk up there on the wild Scottish land above Aberdeen and am pleased to have this opportunity.

Keg requires additional investment. To be serious about getting into keg quite a lot of investment. However, the pricing that the market for keg allows can mean that it returns better on the investment made.

Our cask sales are doing OK. We'd like them to be better, but they are OK. Unfortunately, because we use more hops and leave the beer in tank for longer for dry hopping, there are many markets we simply can't afford to chase as we would have to sell below cost to make the sale. Jeff Pickthall makes the point about margins being slim for cask and it's very valid.

For higher value beers keg can make quite a sensible business option.

I run a business and although I'm passionate about good beer, and believe cask has a future, there are issues with it too. For one, Real Ale simply isn't cool. It's old fashioned and fuddy-dudy. For some markets that is exactly the appeal. For other markets it doesn't work at all. We will always look at balancing our passions with our business needs. If it makes business sense to ditch cask beer and move over to keg, then we will. Currently that option makes no sense at all, but it may do one day.

In a nut shell, so long as punters keep buying our cask beer at a price that covers the costs and makes me a living, we'll carry on making cask.

The question would be why does cask need to be saved from a threat? Sure, it's a great way to present beer, but if it did die out in favour of beer that is high quality, but just happens to be served from a keg, why is that a problem? Sure, keg beer can be too cold and fizzy to some drinkers. Sometimes I agree and would very much sooner have a cask beer. But, unfiltered and unpasteurised in keg and expelled by nitrogen would make a far more stable and more easily manageable product. I'd even question if you'd know the difference.

Cask has technical flaws; extraneous air is bad for unfinished beer in every single case. Couple that with managing stock and the inevitable wastage when the poor cellar man gets his stock levels wrong makes cask only really suitable for high turnover places.

It could be argued that the thin end of one wedge, that has driven in quite far, is a desire by some publicans to try and please CAMRA by putting on cask beer when their establishment cannot justify it. The resultant poor quality gives cask beer a bad name.

The other day I had a glass of Worthington keg. You know, not quite my cup of tea, all fuggles and goldings I expect. But I've had far, far worse cask beer. Cask is no signal of quality, quite the reverse in far too many cases.

Tandleman said...

There are a few things I'd disagree with Dave, but let's start with agreement:

"Cask is no signal of quality, quite the reverse in far too many cases."

"some publicans to try and please CAMRA by putting on cask beer when their establishment cannot justify it. The resultant poor quality gives cask beer a bad name." Obviously without the CAMRA bit which is nonsense.

"cask only really suitable for high turnover places." Partially and with caveats

"unfiltered and unpasteurised in keg and expelled by nitrogen would make a far more stable and more easily manageable product." So does processed peas over fresh mind you

"Sure, keg beer can be too cold and fizzy to some drinkers."

"If it makes business sense to ditch cask beer and move over to keg, then we will. "

"They are good folk up there on the wild Scottish land above Aberdeen and am pleased to have this opportunity." If they bought my beer I'd think so too :-)

So what do I disagree with? Nothing as such, so I've changed my mind from the start of what I wrote. CAMRA isn't a business, so we believe in something. That something is real ale.

The best point you make by far IMO is about quality of cask beer. That's why I bang on about beer quality so much. CAMRA should too. We need to get back to our knitting don't you think?

Oh one thing:

"I'd even question if you'd know the difference."

Only if you doctored the tasting.

chriso said...

Dave: From what you say about pricing, do I take it that, if you put it in a keg, you can sell the same beer for more than if it was in cask? My appreciation of keg beers has largely been based on availability issues - the ability to get decent beer into venues that would not otherwise have anything worth drinking, the possibility of encouraging landlords to stock more / stronger / unusual beers by virtue of longer shelf life etc etc. If, ignoring the initial investment, brewers can make more from keg beers than from cask beers, that seems a bit bizarre but it's easy to see the attraction.

Jeff Pickthall said...

@steve lamond

Yes, I am very well aware of CAMRA's muddle-headed complaint to the OFT.

Dave Bailey said...

Tandy, I don't think we're disagreeing much at all. OK, the cause and solution to cask quality we may disagree on, but an improvement in quality would be very nice to achieve.

Chriso, very simplistically, yes. Most keg beer sells, like for like, at a higher price than cask. Sometimes it can even be for the same product.

However, there is more complexity than that. Cask beer requires very much less investment. Cask is a format that allows small producers entry into the market. I bet even BrewDog would agree with that.

The fact that the investment is less does justify a small differential in prices, at least at wholesale.

However, considering there is more wastage in the pub with cask, on average, I think the differential at the pumps is probably unjustified.

Of course, cask drinkers would say it's keg that's too expensive. Cask producers, like me, see it the other way around therefore a prime reason for the desire to look at keg as a route to market.

Owen said...

@Jeff : Both bread and cheese have campaigning organisations which organise festivals and other events to promote "real" products (and they even use that word).

The fact that you haven't heard of them is a measure of your willingness to make nonsense arguments without research or their lack of success, neither of which are reasons to criticise CAMRA.

@Dave : I was on a beer tasting panel recently where the organiser thought he would make a point by mixing in a keg beer in the middle of the panel. His point was somewhat blunted when everyone on the panel, to a man, looked at each other, turned to the organiser, and said "bring us the cask version".

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Pretty sure when I read the cask beer report, craft keg was the only growing market in the UK.

I'm a brewer and computer guy, not an economist, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of the price disparity between cask and keg is simply supply and demand. There is an oversupply of cask beer into a restricted and contracting market, hence driving the price down. As a businessman I am horrified to hear what my local publican can get a 9 for.

Tandy, the biggest quality problem with cask beer is CAMRA - forcing brewers to have skanky cellar air drawn onto their labour of love.

Tandleman said...

Jeff - Welcome. You are probably right about supply and demand.

As for air. It is good enough for me to breathe and I haven't gone off yet. Oh. Wait a minute.

Happy New Year BTW

chriso said...

Jeff; I'm no economist either but I'm not so sure the economics are quite as simple as that. From memory I don't think the Cask Report was able to come up with definitive figures for the change in cask beer volumes. There seems to be a common consensus that volumes for "mainstream" cask ales from the big brewers are falling - for a number of reasons that may not be entirely related to demand - but what most of us here are more interested in is whether the market available to small brewers is contracting too, what the impact of that is/would be and how they react to it. One thing that is certain is that the number of new breweries far outstrips the number of closures year on year. One might expect that a contracting market, overpopulated by small brewers with very limited resources, operating on wafer thin margins would lead to a large number of failures but that is not borne out by the figures. Further analysis of why that is the case is beyond my meagre capabilities.

Martyn Cornell said...

… when cask beer took a huge downward turn after the beer orders …
In fact the period right after the Beer Orders was the only time in the past 40 years when lager sales went into retreat, as the big brewers were forced to put guest ales on their bars. It made Fuller's, for one, the company it is today. If you mean, however, that quality took a huge downward turn, I'd agree: with the exception of Fuller's, who put in a huge effort to ensure otherwise, far too much of the guest ales that went on sale were appallingly badly kept.

The beer quality problem has been here since at least the Second World War, it first saw the rise of bottled beers, then keg beers, then came the Camra backlash, and poor quality beer is still the elephant in the bar. I don't believe "neo-keg" it at all a satisfactory general answer, but it might be an answer in some places. And it would surely help Camra's case if it let some craft keg beers be sold at festivals so people could directly compare the two sorts and decide for themselves which was better.

Martyn Cornell said...

Oh, and Chriso - you'd be surprised how few outlets a "one man and a dog" brewery needs to be viable. Ten years ago I did a study that suggested, IIRC, that fewer than 70 semi-regular accounts were all that were needed, and that was before PDA …

Tandleman said...

"In fact the period right after the Beer Orders was the only time in the past 40 years when lager sales went into retreat, as the big brewers were forced to put guest ales on their bars."

Nothing there that contradicts me. I didn't say "right after"

I agree about the quality bit, though clearly what you say about Fullers would need some clinical rather than anecdotal evidence. My anecdotal experience wouldn't support that.

The Beer Orders were more or less a complete disaster.

Ben said...

Personally I think that the slim margins cask seems to function on are at least in part down to the larger brewers and wholesalers continuously sacrificing profit margin for volume, in order to win new business. As they drop their prices to win new accounts, other publicans and punters start demanding comparable pricing over time, and suddenly the product/brand has been devalued. A very easy situation to get in to, and a very difficult one to reverse.

If brewers want to command higher (and probably fairer) prices for their cask products, the challenge is a monumental one - a whole lot of people need to be educated on the costs and economics of brewing a pint of beer that actually tastes of something. Because if it's the cheapest price you can find, the chances are, it doesn't.

Erlangernick said...

As a poor foreigner looking in from outside --as well as not being in the trade-- this has been an interesting, informative discussion. I've had to read up on what this Beer Orders business is all about.

A couple of questions have arisen though: Why does keg require a greater investment on the brewing end?

What about using filters to protect the ale from skanky pub cellar air--would this present a breather-esque problem?

I thought I read somewhere (HardknottDave?) that the cask market is difficult to break into for new brewers. But I guess I was reading while drunk.

And the idea that CAMRA should work on its definition of Real Ale whilst throwing around the utterly meaningless "craft" term is pretty funny. I say it's easier to call these keg beers by what they *ain't*, than what they supposedly are: non-shite keg. People can more easily agree that a good, interesting, flavourful, well-hopped ale from a big automated kit is "not shite" than they can agree that it's "crafted", whatever imagery of a wood-paddle-brandishing brewer sweating into the mash tun is supposed to connote.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Good Questions @Erlangernick

Why does keg need more investment. It doesn't always. We started with Corny kegs which where 1/2 the price of firkins and built a keg wash for 100 quid. There are some reasons though that may apply, YMMV.

* A more standard keg is a closed system and this system really needs a smart machine to wash them properly and efficiently. We are on an industry standard keg now and the 3 head washer/sanitiser we bought was expensive and you need additional bits that a small brewery may not have like an air compressor, bulk CO2 and enough juice to drive it
* If you are going to do keg beer with any level of carbonation in it you are going to need tanks that are pressure rated. For a small real ale brewery this really isn't necessary. The higher spec tanks, the more they cost
* There is sometime additional investment needed in order to get your beer on the bar. Maybe buying a font, regulators, fob detectors, couplers, chillers, fitting, whereas not always the case with real ale, you just bang the tap in and screw it to the line
* CAMRA will tell you that you need a filter and a pasteurizer and all that, but that is just bullshit, as you can do keg beer without.

What is wrong with using an air filter, fundamentally I don't think CAMRA would care if you shoved a hepa filter into the shive hole...that is the very least I would do. Remember it's not just the bugs, but the O2 that is killing the beer. I've said it a million times before, talk to any brewer on the planet and there is ONLY 1 place that O2 is desired in the brewing process...and it's not in contact with the finished beer.


Dave Bailey said...

Jeff, you are right, you CAN do keg on a budget, but you need to be VERY resourceful.

That is perhaps why you and I can and have.

I think my keg wash cost more like £500, but does manage to clean regular sanky kegs, although my automated control system is Alex shaped.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

What you have a budget?

Yes you can build almost anything on a budget...classic triangle though(draw it) 3 Sides = Quick Right Cheap You can only have 2 sides...

Phil said...

I thought it was crazy when the price for keg lager (that exotic European drink - yes, I'm going back a bit) hit a point above that of cask ale and stuck there: why were people being asked to pay more for an inferior product, and why were they putting up with it? I thought the same thing all over again with nitrokeg Guinness. Now it looks like we're in for round three with Craft Keg - beer whose price is set for the convenience of the brewer, and stays that high because there's a critical mass of punters willing to pay over the odds for an inferior product. O joy.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Wow, I am amazed at the level of ignorance of some of the people that follow this blog. How can you compare industrial lager and Guinness to craft keg when it comes to pricing?

Today's cask ale is priced too low for the reasons I stated in my post above.

You seem to agree that craft beer should cost more than the industrial shite and that is exactly what is finally happening, so what is the problem?

"Prices set for the convenience of the brewer". What convenience would that be? Staying in business? Inferior Product? What a load of bullshit. You keep drinking the acetobacter infected real ale, those brewers need you.

Phil said...

Very easily - I'll do it again if you like. The comparison is that they're all cases where the producer sets a price for a new product line artificially high, and is then able to maintain it at that level.

I'm not saying that craft keg is as inferior a product as old-style keg, just that it's inferior to the cask equivalent - which in my experience it very consistently has been. Some brewery-conditioned craft keg may be very good - some brewery-conditioned bottled beer is very good, after all - but when I've been able to compare like for like, I've never preferred the b.-c. to the cask version.

As a beer drinker, I don't believe any price is "too low". I think brewers are always going to struggle to persuade punters on this one.

Curmudgeon said...

"I thought it was crazy when the price for keg lager hit a point above that of cask ale"

I thought it had always been above the price of ale, as when it was first introduced it was, as you say, perceived as an exotic premium product.

And, in mainstream pubs, keg ales cost more than cask ales of the same strength.

Curmudgeon said...

On that subject, it's worth mentioning this post I did about Premiumisation a couple of years back.

The other factor is the "quality lottery" involved when buying cask.

Dave Bailey said...


Cask is 15% of the on sales beer market. 85% of beer drinkers buy the more expensive keg versions.

Perhaps drinkers aren't so difficult to convince after all.

StringersBeer said...

It's a common misconception that London is "where the numbers are". In fact, the population of Greater London is something like 8 million. Which is only about a third of the UK population who live in "Large Towns"

For that matter, most people who live in the UK don't live in large towns, again, about twice as many actually live in small towns and smaller settlements.

Just saying.

Tandleman said...

Killer point to that argument Dave.

Tandleman said...

Jeff: "Wow, I am amazed at the level of ignorance of some of the people that follow this blog."

I think as most of my followers read other blogs too you could extend that to all blogs. Unless you are alleging I have particularly dim followers. Oh wait a minute. You have got me.

You'll be telling us next about how every cask brewer in the UK agrees with your negative views about cask ale as they merrily produce their vinegar, or maybe the UK isn't on the same planet. Damn. Caught again!

Seriously good to have you in there pitching Jeff.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Tandy, no problem, always happy to get your comment count up.

Phil said that keg beer was an 'inferior' product. As a technical brewer one measure of quality for me is how many bugs are in the beer. Unfortunately, the antiquated nature of real ale dispense causes this 'quality lottery'.

I'm really not trying to dis my real ale brewing friends here, I don't think there is a single one of them that wants to have their beers infected or oxidized, but unfortunately it is inevitable.

Tandleman said...

Cheers Jeff. But of course all beer goes off after time, just as all food does. You wouldn't suggest all our food is vacuum sealed and flushed with CO2 would you?

Neither presentation form is without its drawbacks.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Actually a majority of it is...more ignorance.

Tandleman said...

I think you'd be hard pushed to prove that the majority of "fresh" food is Jeff, but whatever. This is clearly a passion of yours that no-one can ever shift you from one iota and I respect you for that.

I do wish you wouldn't name call though. That's disappointing.


StringersBeer said...

I think it was top comic David Mitchell, who, commenting on those stupid household disinfectant adverts which draw our attention to vast numbers of bacteria and viruses coating all our kitchen surfaces, said "That must be alright then". Given that we're not all dead already.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

When you see food in the FRESH food aisle of Waitrose that is plastic packed and air tight, like salads, fruit, etc...that stuff is all under a mix of N2 and CO2, otherwise it would go brown. Same with the meat in the FRESH meat aisle or it wouldn't be red.

Why do always accuse me of calling you names? I just said that I thought you were ignorant about modern food production.

Phil said...

Jeff - I'll ask my local butcher and greengrocer about this the next time I'm in. "Excuse me, that meat is looking suspiciously red..."

Dave - that was actually my point, kind of. It's much easier to raise the profit margin for product X by bringing in new improved product X+1, and letting product X fade quietly away, than by telling current satisfied customers of product X that they really ought to be paying more for it. That's the argument brewers are always going to struggle to win.

Rob Nicholson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Nicholson said...

Completely aside but just spent three days @ the Woolpack Inn and drank far too much Hardknott's Infra Red than I should have in the post-Christmas health guilt phase. Lovely beer in a lovely pub served by lovely people. Forgot to buy some bottles though!