Friday, 20 February 2009

The drink that speaks for Britain

I have, like many other beer enthusiasts, been watching Oz and James. I think it is overall very good and a great boost for the beer industry in the UK. It's about time the subject was given more mass media coverage. Surprisingly for me I haven't shouted at the television once.

There have been a few criticisms of the series. Jeff Pickthall points out that they put down all lager. Which is a good point Jeff makes, although to be fair lager is not a British drink. Ron gets quite upset about the inaccuracies over the history of stouts and porters. I suspect quite rightly.

Roger Protz is somewhat annoyed about the complete cold shoulder given to CAMRA and Jeff Pickthall picks up on this. It is now starting to intrigue me that the words "real ale" don't appear much in the programs at all. I do wonder if the BBC have concerns over the image the product group portrays.

On Tandleman's blog and Boak and Bailey's blog there are some lively discussions about cask conditioned beer. I have enjoyed tremendously the passonate arguments that have been put across. Being an enthusiastic real ale licensee I both support CAMRA but also worry about their real potency. I think the discussions that are going on are very helpful.

It leaves me to wonder what Oz and James are going to declare as the drink that really does speak for Britain. It's going to be beer, right? But will it be cask conditioned beer, real ale, handpulled or whatever you want to call it? Or will it just be beer? Or perhaps gin or whisky has some claim to the throne due to a royal connection in the distant past.

For me I would have to say it should be cask conditioned beer. It is THE traditional drink of the UK. Like wine is to the French, vodka is to the Russians and perhaps pilsner is to the Czechs. Whatever, I think Oz and James seem to think the answer is worth making into a cliff hanger for the final program.

It's becoming common to run polls on blogs these days. Not wanting to be left out of the game I thought I'd see if we can correctly guess, just for fun, the conclusion of the drink for Britain series.

11 comments:

Jeff Pickthall said...

It's possibly a bit unfair to beat up the BBC about the lack of CAMRA in the Oz and James series. The BBC is just the company that broadcasts the series, the programme is an independent production the name of which is displayed in the end titles, as you would expect.

Artist formerly known as Wurst said...

I thought I'd heard years ago that lager is the drink of England? When I was at Cain's a few years back, real ale only accounted for 30% of their brewing production. Some people can't stand real ale. I imagine this is largely do to licensees not keeping it in good nick. Once the reputation changes, it will flourish, or maybe it's flourishing now. They(CAMRA) should start wearing white shirts and ties and ride around on bicycles, much like the Jehovah Witness' do. Spread the good word of cask ale that way. Watch the punters flock in droves. The GBBF would be so big, you'd have to have it at the LA Coliseum!

Woolpack Dave said...

Jeff, presumably the BBC have some sort of editorial control.

Wurst, in terms of volume of sales I think you are right, lager sells most volume. I also think you are right that badly kept real ale does put off some. Perhaps that's why 85% of my draft sales are cask beer, because we work hard to keep ours good.

Tommy N said...

Do you think that cask is increasing its share of the market?
Pubs that concentrate on cask and serving it well seem to be doing well. So will more publicans be swayed to serving cask or will falling footfall make them more fearful of spending money on a product that has a limited shelf life? It’s going to be a difficult year for pubs, it will be interesting to see which ones come out the end.

Woolpack Dave said...

Tommy, personally I think cask is a winner. Although some pubs might not find it useful, in my experience any pub that takes cask seriously improves it's footfall.

One well kept ale is better than none at all.

Tim said...

Dave,just wanted to see how your kegged bitter turned out?

Woolpack Dave said...

Tim, It's still in the keg. I'm waiting for a fizz tap to become free, they've all got something in them at the moment.

It's music night tonight so hopefully we'll have some thirsty trad musicians drinking and force me to put it on.

If it goes well I'll be posting about it.

Tandleman said...

Kegged bitter? Have I missed something?

Woolpack Dave said...

Tandleman, you have not missed anything yet. I've put some beer that is brewed with lager malt and Saaz hops but fermented with ale yeast. The CAMRA tasting panel class it as a light mild when cask conditioned.

I am told that many of the major brand "lagers" are in fact a similar product, before being fizzed, so I thought I'd put some in a keg and see if the fizz heads like it.

Tim is being a naughty man calling it a bitter.

Ron Pattinson said...

I turn into Mr. Shouty whenever it comes on.

Tim said...

Coopers Pale Ale and Sparkling ale are keg conditioned ales that sell well in Australia. They have to be served this way rather than cask as no pubs have the equiptment available to dispense from the cask. Low carbonation/pressure via the fizz tap works fine. I think Little Creatures and a lot of Australian micro's do the same thing.