Thursday, 26 March 2009

A bit of quality

As readers might know, I've been playing a little at putting my ale in keg. I'm not doing it to try to reduce my cask sales or in any way to undermine the great reverence that cask deserves. For whatever reason there is a section, even now, of my customer base that does not like cask ales. Some of course drink wine, others drink spirits, some might even be teetotal, but some like to drink beer that is not cask.

Two years ago we decided to remove all major British keg brands from our bar. A bold decision that I'm pleased about. We used to sell a brand of standard "lager" as well as a "premium" product from the same stable. We also sold Guinness, which the sales rep very thoughtfully told us we'd be better off not selling as the throughput was too low. We are very proud to have 85%+ sales of cask beer as a total of our draft sales. We sell a very low volume of keg.
If I'm on the bar and I get asked for a lager I give a taster of my own keg and a taster of something else. Fair enough sometimes I loose, but often I don't. I get lots of compliments from people on how nice my "lager" tastes, despite it not being lager. I've given up telling people that it's not actually lager, because most start to go glassy eyed once I start.
It may be true that people are being polite when they say they like my beer. Indeed, it is interesting how many people walk to the bar and say "It would be rude to come here and not try your own beer" I often reply that they should drink what they want. After all, I only have to buy other peoples beer, brewing my own results in me doing even more hours for less than minimum wage. In any case, I do think there is genuine appreciation, which regularly makes my day.

My keg beers do not compete with my cask beers. If somebody wants cask then that's what they buy. It does however make some keg drinkers realise that there might be more to beer than cask, smooth, lager or Guinness, which of course there is, but not terribly available in this country. I rather think it might make some habitual keg drinkers think about cask.

Jeff Bell talks about Adnams Spindrift. Although I've not tried it myself, I don't think that it would be much different to my kegged version. Jeff seems indifferent to the product. I think it is a way of enlarging the quality beer market rather than competing with cask or lager. Why not? I'm probably going to continue with the concept, the trouble is the keg the beer is in right now is on loan, so I need to spend some money on some kegs of my own. Ann looks after the money. Time to grovel I expect.


Velky Al said...

Good luck with your keg sales - it would be nice for people to get beyond the "only cask is good" mindset that sometime predominates. At the end of the day the question is not the serving system but the quality of the beer.

Artist formerly known as Wurst said...

Good to see you make the move to proper keg! Do you plan on filtering it?

Woolpack Dave said...

formerly Wurst,

It seems OK to just condition it first so the sediment drops out and then decant into keg. If I were to do it for onward sales the most important thing would be to ensure conditioning and transfer under inert gas, i.e. CO2 or nitrogen. As it is I'll probably just decant from cask into keg as and when I need it. I have a recipe for a West Coast IPA which I think will be great in keg.

Tim said...

I have stored unfiltered beer in keg for over 12 months with no problem. just make sure it drops bright firsts and purge the keg with carbon dioxide prior to transfering the beer in.

BTW did you get my email regarding the breathers?

Woolpack Dave said...

Tim, er no, I don't seem to have got that email - oh, wait, yes it's in googlemail. I never use that account. Seems I need to, a few other bloggers have tried contacting me that way.

Thanks Tim.