Regular readers will know that on average I find the temperature of cask beer sold in London pubs to be on the warm side. Not slightly warm, but a lot too warm. And no, I don't accept that there are regional preferences in this kind of thing, though there may be incorrect local flash backs to a byegone era in cellar practice. Are things changing though? I think they might just be. In some places at least.
There is, apart from preference for refreshment, a technical reason for this dislike of warm beer. It is pure physics. The amount of CO2 remaining in the beer after venting is inversely affected by temperature. Colder beer equals more condition and warm beer means flat beer. Put simply CO2 is less soluble the more the temperature increases. From me, the customer, there is nothing more vexing than coughing up the best part of four quid for a pint in London (or anywhere to be fair) and then finding it warm enough to poach an egg in. It has made me on so many occasions just drink lager - and even that can be warm too sometimes, but not cask warm. Saddo that I am, now and then in a fit of zeal, I take out my Cask Marque temperature probe and check how warm my pint is. I did that for the first day of my visit last week. Naturally, prick I may be, but I don't want to be seen as such, so I do this surrepticiously. I have standards you know. Low though they may be, but my intentions are to drive home the message. No warm cask beer please!
Now I usually name names, but this, with one exception, I won't, but I will give you some useful pointers as to where things might be better. The exception is the Euston Tap where my first London pint weighed in at a near perfect 11.2°C. Yippee. Other good news was to be found in two Nicolsons pubs, again more or less perfect and in JD Wetherspoon. (Almost never a problem there). So here's an immediate piece of advice. You are likely (with exceptions) to get cooler and better kept beer in a chain or brewery pub that is managed, as Head Office will be keeping a close eye on beer orders, sales, wastage and customer complaints.*
In each pub I looked for a Cask Marque sign and if there was a problem I determined to bubble them to Cask Marque. After all, that is the name of their game. I didn't need to, so great. Again with one exception, as of course into each life a little rain must fall. One pub that shall remain nameless, sold me my cask beer at an unacceptable 17.2°C and my lass's Budvar at 10.1°C. Yes they had a Cask Marque plaque on the wall and it is by no means the first time, so an email is being sent. Now this may seem petty, but I remind you of the price. When you are charging someone £4 a pint or thereabouts, it needs to be served correctly and after all Cask Marque is meant to be a sign of beer quality. That's why they exist.
Let's leave warm beer to John Major's misty eyed reminiscing. Maybe the often poor state of cask in some places in London is one reason why craft keg is getting a decent hold. And why CAMRA's job is not yet done.
* In managed houses you are also likely to find beer python cooled to the point of dispense, a standard cellar practice folllowed and the cellar cooling temperature set correctly and remaining switched on.