A few weeks ago I was in London having a few pints with @erlangernick. I wrote about some of it here. For our last beers, I took him to one of my local East End pubs, the Dispensarynear Aldgate East Tube Station. I usually go there when I am down at our London flat, as it sells decent beer and is handy for me. During this visit, Annie the landlady came to chat and ask if I was coming to their beer festival. As it happened I was going to be in London that weekend. She asked if I wouldn't mind checking over the state of the beers on her external stillage and for a bit of advice - which I duly gave. She was worried (among other things) that the beer on the stillage, served by gravity, wouldn't be up to snuff.
Fast forward to the night before the festival when I went in to see what was going on. The stillage was erected, twelve beers on board and all vented using a porous hard spile as I had suggested. All were untapped. Cold water cooling was supplied by Adnams and the beer seemed cool to the touch, so all looked good. I tapped all the beers and samples were spot on. So far so good. I called in the next morning all was well. No big leaks - a miracle in itself - and even better - no cask had spat its tap out overnight. That's always a fear. The beer was cellar cool, well conditioned and mostly pin bright apart from those that weren't meant to be. Well we thought they weren't meant to be, but it is hard to know these days. All tasted fine however and we disregarded the odd haze. None were soupy.
The festival was opened by Roger Protz who was, to say the least, surprised to see me, but we had a great time and the pub was busy. Roger drank some Londom Porter which he loved and gave a very amusing and interesting speech about beers in the East End and spoke fondly about his old favourite, Charrington IPA. Roger is a true East Ender and was happy to be back. We had a good two or three hours. Later, much refreshed after our gated community's annual residents party, we called in again. The pub was still busy and beer still good. On Saturday night after meeting friends we nipped in once more on the way home and again the beer on stillage was still in great form and the pub, not usually open on a Saturday attracted quite a crowd. It was clearly going well.
As I keep saying, looking after cask beer is actually fairly easy. Why do so many get it wrong?
The photo shows Annie and me after the beers were tapped. I didn't take any pictures of Roger. Or much else. Don't know why really.
Disclosure: Annie is a pal. I just helped her for a few beers. And to prove a point I suppose. Oh and David, her husband gave me an excellent sausage butty! Assuming the event wiped its face at least, Annie and David will be doing this again. I might help.
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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