What does everyone think? https://t.co/Du7YavEXW5— AffinityBrewCoSteve (@Affinity_Steve) July 28, 2019
We started off, quite a while ago now, with the odd opaque pint being presented to drinkers. These were usually from new breweries in London and the south, following the then American tradition of cask conditioned beers being presented with what was termed "opalescence". As explained to me by a brewing friend of some substance, Jaime Jurado, this was how American brewers and the American public, back in these relatively uninformed days, perceived as the way that sort of beer was meant to be. (You could probably take the meaning to be a sort of milky/hazy sheen.) Then though - and I'm talking early noughties, most American beer was presented in the usual crystal clear way. West Coast IPA was a clear beer then as were most American "craft" beers.
I think it was Robbie Pickering who first coined the term "London Murky" and then it was rather unusual to see deliberately hazy beers, championed by a few and regarded with a mixture of indifference and horror by most of us "traditionalists", but the beer itself was well enough brewed, with my main objection being that it - pun intended - muddied the cask conditioned waters and undermined the convention built up over many years, that a problem pint was identified by sight first of all, if it was presented as less than clear. There was more or less a nationwide acceptance on both sides of the bar that this was a starting point about a case to answer on a beer's saleability. In short the increase in hazy beers eroded the customer's position and allowed barstaff to say something that had largely been eliminated; "It's meant to be like that." My own view was that this was the thin end of the wedge and that sooner or later there would be no line that could confidently be drawn.
Fast forward a few years. Small breweries have multiplied and tastes and fashions in beer have changed. Craft has pushed the perception envelope to the extent that anything goes, with some beers being indistinguishable from fruit juice in appearance. Indeed many have fruit juice added to them. This was always going to be a problem in so much as experimental beers are chucked out to trade and nobody has any real idea of what they really were drinking in terms of what the beer should actually taste like. This is of course very convenient to the brewer, but not for the customer, who often has to pay a premium price for something that may not be to his or her liking, or, more importantly one that he or she suspects is faulty. Now there is little recourse to changing such a beer for something more acceptable. The answer is likely to be "It's meant to be like that!"
Yesterday this was raised on Twitter by a peeved customer, Seth Bradley, who had received over the bar the samples shown in the photo. I leave them to speak for themselves. Follow up tweets such as this illustrate my point:
It gets us nowhere though. Breweries dump out beer and advertise that they have dumped it out, to what end? I've raised issues before and been told "yeah we were unsure about that beer" or "we weren't happy with that one". Pressure to make ends meet Vs economising on quality.— Mark (@millionbevs) July 28, 2019
Are these really well designed, properly brewed beers with a profile and recipe that is planned and brewed for? You'd kind of doubt it wouldn't you?
What's the answer to these colloidal solutions when the rule book has been thrown away? I don't know for you, but for me? Avoid them like the plague.
You can read Jaime's credentials here.
I once asked Charlie Bamforth about cases less bad than this. He said the line has to be drawn before a beer looks like chicken soup. Too late.