Friday, 10 April 2015

More is Less. Less is More


The good old Morning Advertiser has this piece here which explains that following an HMRC ruling about "yields" per barrel, they have increased prices to landlords, thus turning a reduction after the recent beer duty cut into a price increase. Hey Presto!

Now a few things occur to me about this. They are saying that there is less sediment in their beer - in fact six pints less - therefore the landlords can in fact make money on six pints more. That seems fine as a straightforward piece of arithmetic, but of course, they had been making that money anyway, so I dare say the landlord won't see it that way at all.

The other question that needs to be asked is strikingly obvious.  How have  they have done this? I would assume by holding the beer in bright beer tanks until even more of the sediment has dropped out. Now I'm not against this provided there is sufficient viable yeast for a secondary fermentation - in fact I approve of it as I dislike murky beer- but it could make you wonder just how "real" some real ales are.  Well funnily enough I'm not that bothered and to some of us, hardly news either.  It is the application of external gas to beer that I don't like. That's what makes beer hard to drink to me. The softness of the carbonation in real ale is what makes it swoopable.

So Greene King landlords, the Revenue is right. Greene King is right. Pay up.

Read the comments in the MA article. Fairly even overall, but you get an impression from some that the don't really like GK.




23 comments:

StringersBeer said...

So it's the "campaign for lightly carbonated beer" now?

Jeffrey Bell said...

Cat out the bag here. I know breweries that condition in tanks, and not in the cask at all. I know breweries that condition in cask, but at the brewery. I don't know many who send out beer that conditions in the pub cellar. Traditional understanding of what cask conditioned beer is often tend toward the third option, largely for for romantic reasons.

Similarly many people like to think modern handpumps actually draw beer from the cask in the cellar through the efforts of the barman, when in fact flojets invariably assist it all the way. We tend not to discuss this. We know it's necessary and unimportant to the final product but we don't want to re-open pointless discussions.

Cooking Lager said...

Real ale is dead as a concept. I much prefer the concept of Tandleman approved beer. You don't have to define craft or real or owt. Simply ask "Would the Tand neck it?" There should be logos for this.

Tandleman said...

Cookie: It's a fine idea but the poor old crafties would be out in the cold.

Jeff: Indeed

Jon: Properly carbonated beer. Real carbonation in fact.

electricpics said...

Most breweries - large, small and tiny - send out 'cask' beer with precious little sediment. You can tell when the cask's first spiled that there's been naff all secondary fermentation by the lack of the traditional avoidance from being covered in beer. Taylors Landlord is one exception. Charles Wells reseed their cask beers with bottom fermenting yeast to provide a small secondary fermentation and to ensure the beer drops bright quickly - I don't suppose they're they're alone in this. And don't get me started on Marston's Fast Cask...

Paul Bailey said...

Leaving aside for a moment, the question of how much yeast is present in a cask, and whether it is sufficient to allow a strong secondary fermentation, the issue of HMRC re-assessing the amount of sediment in a particular beer is a new one on me. Do they carry out this exercise every year, as the MA article seems to imply? If so, that must be a logistical nightmare, given that the number of UK breweries has now passed the one thousand mark.

Also, do all micro’s exercise sufficient control over the yeast content of all their beer? Do they even know what the cell count per millilitre is? I suspect not. Perhaps this assessment only applies to breweries whose beer production is above a certain volume.

Secondary fermentation, or the lack of it, is a real minefield, and as electricpics points out, there are very little signs of life when many, so-called cask-conditioned beers are spiled. Yes, Timothy Taylor’s is an honourable exception, but so is our local beer, Larkin’s. It’s definitely a case of “stand well back” when spiling their casks!!

Anonymous said...

Paul, not all micros, but many do exercise that control and have parameters for acceptable cell counts, and indeed residual fermentablity.
You can usually work out who does by tasting their beer- lively and dropping bright!
Not lucky enough to have Larkins around here but will look out for it.
As for demonstrable calculation of correct sediment allowance, it's a long standing legal obligation.
One wonders how an organisation as large and experienced managed to claim more sediment allowance than they were delivering in trade.
JC

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks for the update, anonymous. I’m pleased to learn that there are plenty of micros who exercise proper control over their beer quality. It all becomes a bit hit and miss otherwise.

I might have guessed the Revenue have long been on the case of how much wastage breweries are allowed, before tax is due.

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks for the update, anonymous. I’m pleased to learn that there are plenty of micros who exercise proper control over their beer quality. It all becomes a bit hit and miss otherwise.

I might have guessed the Revenue have long been on the case of how much wastage breweries are allowed, before tax is due.

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

Goodness, shock horror ;-) Next we'll learn that some breweries pasteurise the beer!

oldgeezer said...

Shock horror?not so fast.The importance is if a bright beer is endorsed by Camra then key keg beer where little or no secondary conditioning takes place is equally valid.Brewdog at Camra fests possibly.

Tandleman said...

Bright beer and real ale are not mutually exclusive. And BD centrifuge all their beer to remove yeast.

Oblivious said...

Maybe the brewers of unfinned London murk might be on to something. People are more than will to drink the sediment, in fact pay above the odds to do so. An in turn the brewery can clam a sediment rebate from revenue :)

py said...

Campaign for real carbonation. None of that fake carbon dioxide chemical filth.

Anonymous said...

so real ale is beer that is stored in a cask but not necessarily conditioned in a cask?

Tandleman said...

Anon: Who is saying that then?

Bottle Beer Drinker said...

I thought that's what you are saying
Bright beer and real ale are not mutually exclusive

Tandleman said...

Nope. Best re-read it carefully.

Bottle Beer Drinker said...

it could make you wonder just how "real" some real ales are. Well funnily enough I'm not that bothered

Tandleman said...

"Now I'm not against this provided there is sufficient viable yeast for a secondary fermentation"

That's the key point in this context.

Anonymous said...

As a brewery you are supposed to write to HMRC asking them if you can claim a sediment allowance and providing evidence of some sort to justify the sediment allowance you wish to claim.

In my experience a lot of breweries don't even do this but just take a sediment allowance based on what they think it should be. Of course with so many smaller breweries many of who have a relatively small output, it's unlikely to ever be checked, but a few could be in for a shock if they do get audited for claiming a sediment allowance they have not had signed off.

At our brewery we test for sediment every 2 months and if the level falls below our agreed level with HMRC we need to inform them.

StringersBeer said...

"in my experience a lot of breweries don't even do this but just take a sediment allowance based on what they think it should be."
That'd be a whole lot more impressive if you'd put a name
to it.

In my limited experience some people don't bother - judging the saving not worth the trouble (if you do it properly).