Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Back to a Grim and Unwelcome Reality


Readers will probably know I don't like murky beer and since Rob Pickering first coined the term, I've become an avid fan of the descriptor "London Murky", though it equally applies to Manchester - or for that matter, Anywhere Murky.

On my return to London from our Spanish holiday, we were both knackered. Handy for our London flat is our local JDW, the Goodman Fields, so we headed along for a quick meal. Our skinny steaks were delicious - surprisingly so perhaps - and the place was rammed. I remember when it opened and for some years after, it used to be empty, so Timbo saw its potential, now clearly fulfilled. I ordered a pint of By the Horns Stiff Upper Lip, though it isn't a beer I'm at all familiar with. Bloody thing was cloudy.  Now here's the problem. How do I know if it is meant to be cloudy, or if it on the other hand, has been slung together by some numpty who doesn't now how to brew beer. Or, possibly, put on too early by a dopey cellarman before it has dropped bright. I don't and can't know of course is the answer.  Now you may say "What does that matter if it tastes all right?" Well it won't taste all right to me and it is me that is buying it.  It will likely taste of yeast and protein trub, because that's what causes it.  Now of course it is a matter of personal taste whether you like this kind of  flavour, but I don't. I like clear, clean, precise flavours in my beer. To my mind if brewers wish to sell the unsuspecting public beer, they should at least have the decency to warn us and hence the pubs that sell it, that it might be cloudy (hazy in murkyspeak). Then at least you have a choice.

When this first became a "thing" like many I'm sure, I thought to myself, "It won't last", but in fact it has. It has actually become more common, widened and deepened.   It is particularly common in London and not only there. It is slowly undermining public confidence in cask beer.

It is also very, very depressing.

I did get in touch with the brewery who said "It is meant to be fined".   They also said something else but that's for another post.

27 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

Bit of a correlation/causation confusion there, Pete.
It will taste of yeast and protein trub, because that's what causes it.

The second part is undoubtedly true: if it tastes of that, the cloudiness is to blame, as are at least some of the humans in the chain between the fermenter and your pint glass.

But the first half of the statement is not proven. "It will"? It might not. Though if it does, obviously, send it back.

Tandleman said...

I suppose you are right John in that a few yeasts will leave no bitey tastes, but most will. Many of the proteins will be detectable too but not often (in my opinion) in a good way.

But I would allow that I might have been better to say " It will likely" so I will change it to that.

The Beer Nut said...

"not often ... in a good way" That's my whole take on murky as applied to pale ales right there: it's not worthy of outright damnation; it's generally better than, for example, over-aggressive filtration or compromising freshness; but beers that wouldn't be better if they were cleaned up are rare.

py said...

"When this first became a "thing" like many I'm sure, I thought to myself, "It won't last", but in fact it has. It has actually become more common, widened and deepened."

Of course it has, just as I tried to explain it would some years ago. It is democracy in action. Young people associate the cloudy appearance with modern, high quality beer with a vibrant, juicy hoppy flavour.

"It is slowly undermining public confidence in cask beer"
On the contrary, the opposite is happening. People are learning that cask ale doesn't have to taste of mud and twigs like it did all through the 80s and 90s, and one way to tell which ales are going to be good are to look out for the slightly cloudy ones.

You may note that cloudy cider is also becoming popular as it is seen as more fully flavoured - its a similar phenomenon.


Jimbaud said...

He's not wrong, you know

Phil said...

I had a By the Horns porter in that same Spoons and it was bob-on - but the Yeastie Boys collab I had there was in very poor nick (albeit too old rather than too young). In this case I'd blame it on the cellarman, as B*Witched never said.

Curmudgeon said...

Maybe as well as the "should/should not be served with a sparkler" thing, the GBG also needs a "should be clear/may be cloudy" symbol ;-)

Erlangernick said...

Drank a whole litre of homebrewed half-IPA last night that was hazy. Hazy from lazy, short-cut style homebrewing intended to get me neckable hopjuice as quick as possible, not from yeast. Well, it was yeasty, but that's because I bottled it 2 days after brewing, before primary fermentation was finished, resulting in about a quarter inch of sediment in the bottle, and tonnes of primary fermentation fartiness in the nose.

Of course, I knew all that was going to be there, no need for warnings on pumpclips or bottle labels. And it costs me on the order of a tenth of what your pint o' Murky does.

Think I'm ready to start up a rail-arch nano!

RedNev said...

If my pint is cloudy, it goes back. If it has only a slight haze which hasn't affected the taste, I'll drink it. We do eat and drink with our eyes as well as our mouth, otherwise why is so much care taken over the presentation of meals?

Having been drinking since the 1970s, I do not remember a time when beer ever tasted of twigs and mud, but egotistical and gratuitous disdain seems to be the only colour on that particular writer's palette.

Tandleman said...

py: As nearly always you aren't wrong and aren't right either. In the 1980s particularly, cask beer was everywhere as were landlords who knew how to look after it. Most was really rather good, but as always some was better than others.

You are wrong too about slightly cloudy. Most that I and others worry about are those that look like chicken soup. Increased hoppiness may throw a haze, but that isn't an issue. Trub in beer is.

As for cider. Real cider has always in varying degrees, been cloudy as it doesn't tend to settle naturally. Oddly the clear "real" ciders have gone the other way. But these all use natural yeasts on the apple's surface, so you are always going to have differences.

As for many drinkers of cloudy beer, they wouldn't know yeast bite if they came across it. You are much more get mud and twigs from unfined beer.

Jimbaud

Who is? If py see above.

Nick

Just have a little patience, get ahead a bit and brew better beer.

Tyson said...

"Young people associate the cloudy appearance with modern, high quality beer with a vibrant, juicy hoppy flavour."

Of course they do. They also believe in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy.

Jeffrey Bell said...

"Rob Pickering first coined the term"

Pretty sure my mate Broggers the Melt coined the term London Murky actually Pedro.

Tandleman said...

Think Robbie gets the credit on social media Jeffers. Your pal has missed the bus.

Curmudgeon said...

Py says "Young people associate the cloudy appearance with modern, high quality beer with a vibrant, juicy hoppy flavour"

I really don't recognise this at all. OK, I rarely visit the most cutting-edge of craft beer outlets, but over a typical year I go in a huge variety of pubs and have never seen this.

OK, take the Magnet, which is probably Stockport's most on-trend beer pub. While they offer a variety of beer styles, they tend to concentrate on the pale and hoppy stuff. I've seen the very occasional beer described as "hazy", but in general everything is served clear and that's what the customers expect.

Jeffrey Bell said...

Never heard of Rob Pickering and google doesn't help. Broggers, meanwhile, is famous

Martin, Cambridge said...

Stick to the Ruddles in Spoons; it's the safest bet.

Beermunster said...

If I get a pint that is cloudy of hazy it is going back. The only exception would be if it says on the pumpclip, blackboard or similar place that it will be cloudy. Perhaps it has no effect on the taste but I don't care - it puts me off enjoying it.

In my local they occasionally have on a beer that is supposed to be cloudy. In addition to putting a note on the pumpclip, the barstaff make a point of explicitly telling anyone ordering it that it will be cloudy. Aside from just being good customer service, I suspect this is because (rightly or wrongly) many people just don't want cloudy beer.

Tandleman said...

Beermunster: I might allow hazy, but no more cloudy cask without warning. If I get one it will be going back too. See forthcoming blog post.

PS -That pub is spot on.

Tandleman said...

Jeff: Boak and Bailey is the sopurce, but it is well known:

Quote from them: In September 2013, Glasgow-based blogger and CAMRA activist Robbie Pickering wrote that, ‘Five Points Pale Ale is in the “London Murky” style pioneered by The Kernel.’ In an email, he explained what prompted him to come up with that turn of phrase:

In 2011 or so, there were three things that distinguished The Kernel’s beers: their flavour, their downright cloudy appearance and the inexplicably thick layer of sediment in the bottom of every bottle. It seemed to justify giving a name to this sort of beer which was different to anything else in the UK market at the time.

He writes I Might Have a Glass of Beer

py said...

Going to a trendy craft beer bar and complaining about the hazy over-hopped beer is like going to spoons and complaining about the slow service and sticky tables, surely?

I mean, you know what you're going to get before you go in, if you don't like it, go somewhere else.

Martin, Cambridge said...

What is this slow service at Spoons nonsense - you get a beer within 2-3 minutes, food within 10 (ok too quick). Service is only immediate when there's no customers. Longer waits getting served in Austria or Germany, whether at the bar or table service.

Steven said...

"It is slowly undermining public confidence in cask beer"

And about time too. 99% of cask beer is disgusting, flavourless brown slop that some sexist old fart chucked together. That doesn't change even if you do artificially clarify it with by-products from the commercial fisheries industry. Fake boobs don't make a woman beautiful, after all.

Phil said...

Going to a trendy craft beer bar and complaining about the hazy over-hopped beer

is something I've never done, because I've never had "hazy over-hopped beer" in any of the bars I go to. I did once get a pint of unfined beer which was also full of yeast, which I did complain about. Well, I blogged about it - would have been damn-all point complaining to the barman.

py said...

Phil, just take a small sip and say "I'm sorry, I don't think this is right, could I have something else instead?"

I've never once been refused. Obviously if you've necked half of it before complaining then you've only got yourself to blame.

People like you who don't complain are the reason bars try to get away with serving dodgy pints.

Phil said...

I was nearly halfway down it before I was sure it was wrong. If it hadn't said on the pump clip that it was supposed to be hazy I would have been suspicious much sooner.

py said...

It can't have been that bad then if you happily drank half of it without noticing.

Rob Nicholson said...

Just finished the Bollington beer festival and, as bar manager, I was paranoid about it dropping bright. Of the 40, two of them were hazy and we labelled the beers as such. We had several intentionally cloudy beers and these were already labelled as such. The attendees seemed fine with this but I do agree that labelling of such beers is important. The cloudy beers weren't the first to go though.