It's been a funny old week on t'internet beerwise. The old cask versus keg argument was set alight once more by some offensive ad hominem attacks on someone who simply professed in no uncertain terms - on his own blog - that a murky beer he'd been served was not remotely to his liking and in the opinion of him and his wife, tasted vile. He called it "overpriced rubbish." That's his opinion and on his blog, he clearly stated that and his mild reaction to such viciousness was a credit to him. While it wasn't quite "Nothing to see here. Move on", though clearly it could have.
Sadly it wasn't that simple. A number of astonishing personal attacks then took place in the comments section, many of them complaining that the author wasn't erudite enough and didn't string his points together in a more appealing manner, though he seemed to have no problem in making himself and his meaning understood beyond reasonable doubt by his critics. (Surely the point of language and the written word, when all is said and done. The first comment and the second by the same person set the tone of what was to come. First of all was a pop at the author's writing ability and then at CAMRA and its members, which as far as I could see was nothing to do with the article. (As an aside here, it is time people realised that the vast majority of cask ale drinkers have nothing whatever to do with CAMRA and aren't members - so pack that in please.) In fact the writer of the piece concerned has a dig at CAMRA members later in his article, so who knows if he is a member or not? Whatever, but when you read on its gets worse. And worse. Since when did beer become so important that such nasty personal attacks made on a person are justified because of beery preferences and grammar?
Needing a bit of light relief from that I turned to Beer and Whine. Given the title of the piece - "CAMRA - The Campaign for Rudeness & Arrested development"I was hoping for something a little more gentle and nuanced. A tongue in cheek look at the Venerable Society for Beer from the Wickets complete with a little leg pulling perhaps? Nope. This statement sets the tone for a bitter piece of CAMRA bashing "The first and most infuriating characteristic of your stereotypical
CAMRA member is the outright arrogance and rudeness that is on display
every time that they step foot in a bar/pub." Goodness. What has happened to this poor writer at the hands of these cask conditioned cretins that has affected him so deeply? The rest of it continues in the same bilious tone, complete with misleading and incorrect statements. If you haven't read it do. Meantime I return to my point above. Most real ale drinkers aren't CAMRA members and I'll add a couple. Most members will visit your bar and you will never know they are members, hardly any will "demand" discount, though some may politely enquire and the question of pricing isn't as simple as jacking up the price, more of which later.
At least, despite what I read above, the cask versus keg war is over according to this article by Fourpure Brewery from the Morning Advertiser. No-one in their right drinking mind disputes the statement by Sean Knight of Fourpure that the focus should be on quality, but of course things are far more nuanced than that. Sadly it isn't that simple but this polite article was kind in tone and was refreshing for that alone.
This brings me neatly to comments, again in the Morning Advertiser by Sophie Atherton about cask beer pricing and so called "cut-price cask beer" and customer resistance to higher prices. As I hinted before this is complex problem and as I'd expect Sophie makes a good fist of examining the arguments, though I'm not sure that the sort of cask most of us real ale drinkers sup can truly be described as "premium". The idea too that you can call a beer premium when it is so often already sold at top dollar in poor nick could be troublesome to sustain in a reasoned argument. Nonetheless I agree with the conclusion that a perfectly served pint can command a decent and fair price and that quality at the point of dispense is imperative. Having said that, as Karl Marx said - and he was a real ale man - "the problem isn't identifying what is wrong, the problem is how to change it." Frankly there is no a consensus on that and the issue of too many breweries chasing too few accounts and publicans helping to drive down brewers' margins, isn't even discussed. Fair prices for sellers don't easily happen in a buyer's market.
So where does this leave us? Well we can deduce that the meatheads aren't all in CAMRA, the craft beer scene is far from gentle and benevolent and can show a snobby and arrogant side. Beer costs, too much/too little, is too warm too flat/too cold and too gassy and the answers to known problems aren't that obvious. Think I'll go for a pint now. It will be from JW Lees, will be just under £3 and Lees make plenty of money.
I had a pint of keg beer the other day. The brewer admitted that it had around 3 volumes of CO2 in it. Too much for me. We will be having yer actual keg at Manchester Beer and Cider Festival as a matter of interest.
While answers aren't obvious, you should, in the meantime adopt my mantra "It's the offer Stupid." If you don't get that right these days you are in trouble.
Nicked "Playing the Man" from Mudgie, though I doubt if it is copyright
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.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
If you wish to email me you can do so by using this address: tandleman[at]yahoo.co.uk
These are the life blood of any blog. Please feel free to comment. I do not practice censorship if you stick to the point, but personal insults are frowned upon and may result in deletion. Anonymous entries may have the piss taken out of them or be deleted.
Beer samples are welcome, but I cannot guarantee a good review. You, the brewer, on the other hand can.
I do not currently accept adverts on this site, but if you feel so inclined, make me an offer. If you wish me to wear your brewery stuff, great. XXL please
The contents of this blog represent the personal views of the author only. They do not represent CAMRA policy in any way whatsoever.
The contents of this site and individual articles may not be reproduced in whole without the express permission of the author and will require an appropriate credit. Extracts may be reproduced with a credit to the author.