I have limited time, but I wanted to get this little post out before I pack my bag for London and the GBBF.
When reading a comment on Boak and Bailey about what CAMRA ought to do, there was one helpful comment. It was along the lines of "What are CAMRA doing about quality?". I couldn't agree more. Those of us that spend a lot of time drinking cask beer in pubs know that it can be a lottery, with even so called top pubs unable, or unwilling, or for God's sake unaware,that they are selling sub standard product. In these trying times you don't want to spend £3+ on less than optimum beer. You don't want the embarrassment or hassle of sending it back, using euphemisms such as "I'm not sure this is quite right" or "Has this reached the end of the barrel?" when you know very well it is undrinkable piss. At the same time the bar staff should know. (The best pubs will have the manager sipping the odd mouthful to check from time to time.)
There are some dodgy arguments about new craft going around, but one thing is reasonably certain about craft keg. That is, that while it may well be cold and gassy, it is unlikely to be actually "off". This to me is where we came in many years ago with keg, though of course, current pricing and availability is likely to leave craft keg as a minority sport, but that can't be relied on forever.
As I say, time is short, but one of the recommendations of the review of CAMRA that I was a member of, was to campaign for better cask beer quality. When CAMRA sets its priorities, that should be number one, top of the tree etc. While we are at it we should encourage brewers to provide cask beer in as small a quantity as the pub wants. Too big a container limits cask beer's ability to compete on short run speciality beers. Keykegs may be part of the answer, but the good old pin (4.5 gallons)should be brought back in great numbers, breweries should use them to produce short run exciting and innovative beers. If a brewery can't do short run beers and it is of any size, it needs a pilot plant. A sound investment and cheap as chips too.
Who says innovation should be the domain of craft keg? Craft keg brewers that's who. It is one of their main selling points (though you could argue that umpteen variations on an IPA theme is hardly cutting edge).
Other brewers need to wake up and take them on at their own game.
Next time you get a duff pint, send it back. And a question. How do you send a pint of craft beer back if you think it is too cold and gassy? I honestly don't know.
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.
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