Friday, 4 February 2011

The Session #48 Cask, Keg, Can or Bottle

My regular 4 readers have no doubt been crying into their Skol at my lack of writing so will be glad to know Scoop has coaxed me out of retirement for this month's "session" - where bloggers the world over chunter on about some subject decided by one person. 

This month's topic is cask, keg, can or bottle. As someone working for a global brewer renowned for keg lager I'm guessing it's assumed I have an opinion - you over-estimate me, I don't. Quite frankly my days of caring about dispense method ended the day I handed back the keys to my last pub 10 years ago  - you could dispense my beer through the gusset of a whore's drawers as long as it delivers a great pint and I wouldn't care.

But I'm guessing Scoop wanted a little more than that so I've given it some thought and for me keg and bottle is the best way forward (admittedly I've still not really narrowed down all the options!).  To my mind there is no such thing as "real ale", that would imply that there is pretend ale which is obviously nonsense - there is good beer and bad beer and that applies across all dispense types. Serving cask beer is hard work, all that tapping and venting is time a busy landlord could be spending with customers so there are a lot of pubs that serve cask beer badly. Keg beer is pretty hard to mess up and brewers have got quite good at putting it in the keg in a way that even the worst type of pub can't mess up so it offers the chance for all pubs to serve a great pint, that has to be a good thing.

If I was still running pubs I would want as many brewers as possible to produce great beer in keg or bottle, it's easier to keep therefore making me more money (by reducing wastage, time spent keeping etc) and as a drinker I want the same thing. If I try a great beer in a pub I want to be able to drink it to the same standard and quality at home, I don't yet have a cask set up at home but I do have a fridge so I could get close enough to pub experience with bottles.

Don't get me wrong, I like cask beer and have had some amazing cask beers but I've had many that are dreadful whereas keg beer delivers 9 times out of 10, I'd rather take those odds.

Oh, and if you were looking for my views on cans, cans are for pop.




 

4 comments:

Barm said...

Smoothflow stuff strikes me as being pretty close to pretend ale. Brewed with the bare minimum quantity and quality of ingredients to be commercially acceptable and then dispensed with nitrogen to simulate beer.

It's like those old textbooks for bakers and confectioners where they'd give four different recipes for a Victoria sponge or something. The first one is the proper recipe that you sold for a shilling, the second and third use fewer eggs and butter and the fourth only costs 6d and is the cheapest recipe you can still get away with selling.

Ben said...

Have you tried craft beer from a can yet? I haven't but I'm curious to see how it fares vs bottles.

Interesting to see your take on Keg v Cask though. The reliability and shelf life of keg immediately struck me as something that would be daft to overlook, particularly for smaller breweries who are trying to get themselves well established as a quality brewer. Surely they want to be doing all they can to ensure their product reaches their customers in prime condition, and keg seems to me (an ill-informed observer with no experience of running a pub or brewery) to be the most reliable means of doing it.

Keg also seems to be a much more accessible mode of dispense for attracting new people to drink decent craft beer (it's got some carbonation, like the stuff they're used to, it's colder, like the stuff their used to, and it's more likely to be consistent/reliable from one keg to the next of the same beer, like they're used to).

Barm said...

Interesting to see your take on frozen food v fresh. The reliability and shelf life of frozen food immediately struck me as something that would be daft to overlook, particularly for smaller restaurants who are trying to get themselves well established as a quality place. Surely they want to be doing all they can to ensure their product reaches their customers in prime condition, and frozen food seems to me (an ill-informed observer with no experience of running a pub or restaurant) to be the most reliable means of doing it.

Frozen food also seems to be a much more accessible mode of dispense for attracting new people to eat decent food (it's softer in texture, like the stuff they're used to, it's saltier, like the stuff their used to, and it's more likely to be consistent/reliable from one meal to the next, like they're used to).

Simon Johnson said...

Thanks for the post. The Session round-up is now live:

http://www.reluctantscooper.co.uk/2011/02/session-48-round-up.html