There has been a bit of talk recently about a new fad about to hit the UK. Well hit some of the trendy, hipsterish parts thereof. The fad is tank beer. Now us older chaps can well remember awful tank beer in the seventies and eighties. It was dire, tasteless, ice cold and probably made with floor sweepings. It wasn't generally pasteurised and arrived on the back of very odd looking tanker/drays to be pumped into Grundy tanks in pub cellars. These inexpensive, mass produced tanks, were produced in the 60's and 70's for directly dispensing
carbonated beer from pub cellars. On removal, as the cask conditioned revolution displaced them, they were snapped up by the nascent and burgeoning micro brewing sector as cheap, ready made,
fermentation and conditioning/bright beer vessels. Might still be in use here and there still.
I read that Meantime are to the fore in this and you know, when it comes to their keg beers, they might be on to something in terms of freshness. One place that has been re-introducing tank beer for some time is the Czech Republic and I remember well on my previous visit around five years ago, legging round to sample the beer in the few places that sold it. Fast forward five years and the craze has spread, if not like wildfire, at a steady pace. Tankovna pubs sell beer from stainless steel tanks that hold ten hectolitres of brew
held in a plastic envelope within. and steadily held at between 8 and
10ºC. Beer is pushed out of the tank by air pressure, not in contact with the beer, which tastes remarkably and noticeably fresher, more rounded and tastier.
On my recent visit, we were fortunate to be within a three minute walk of one of the newest and finest outlets for Pilsner Urquell Tankovna beer. Lokal is a large, narrow beer hall, with a small bar at the front and two very long and large rooms behind, the furthest of which is mercifully no smoking. The beer is remarkably good, with a rounded mouthfeel, medium carbonation, good hopping and is very moreish. Lokal is mainly a Czech haunt and the beer is brought to you, without asking, as your glass empties, with the beers being marked off on a card covered in printed tankards. When you have had enough, you simply decline and your bill will be totted up by the somewhat gruff but efficient waitresses.
Should you fancy the Budvar version, a good place to try it is U Medvídků where I first tried it years ago and where we lunched one day. To me though, and I'm surprised to say it, the PU version was better. You can also with ease seek out Krušovice, Gambrinus and Staropramen versions for comparison's sake, though you might want to avoid the Gambrinus one in the Old Town (pictured) where, to say the least, some assiduity could be applied to measure. Well short in other words.
So. Tank beer making a comeback? May not be a bad thing if done correctly.
The great thing about all these places is being able to view the tanks in situ. They are actually rather lovely, though a bit like Thomas the Tank Engine.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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