Monday, 29 November 2010

The Burgeoning March of Craft Keg

I'm really not keeping up with stuff that is happening these days. It's very frustrating because there is a lot happening it would seem. BrewDog have gone and done it again and got everyone all worked up about stuff. James is reported to have said that there is no future in cask beer and keg is the future. His comments, which are a little derogatory regarding CAMRA and suggesting that cask beer is stuffy and a poor way to introduce people to beer, have got some all properly insulted.

During my trip to the deep south last week I picked up a copy of The London Drinker. It's the rather well put together magazine of the London CAMRA branches. Towards the back there is a somewhat vitriolic rebuke to Mr Watt's comments1.

I'm somewhat bemused. First of all, what is the most common form of dispense for beer in the UK, or for that matter, in the world? Yup, it is keg. So of course keg is the future, silly.

Secondly, is it the future for craft beer? Well, what is craft beer anyway? Why is crap cask made by major national brewers, like Marston's for instance, considered craft? It's pants. Give me the choice between a pint of Pedigree on cask or a pint of Trashy on keg which do you think I'd choose? Which would you choose? Which is craft? And who cares if it is craft if it tastes good anyway? Or perhaps tastes crap?

Of course there is a future for cask. Of course there is a future for keg, that one ain't going away. BrewDog, Lovibond, Meantime and Thornbridge all produce keg. Summer Wine brewery is playing with it and we will be too before long.

Although we sell some BrewDog we haven't sold any of their keg, yet. We're not stupid, this is conservative2 Cumbria and the market for craft keg is yet to be developed. Here they tend to like a Guinness and blue WKD3 cocktail. So we make do selling cask and bottle. I need to develop my own craft keg market before I start letting James in on that.

But whatever, I am becoming increasingly amused at this "war" between cask and keg. I'm absolutely sure that James has deliberately set out to wind up some cask hard-liners. It's worked; in this case he's gone and got his logo in a CAMRA mag - for FREE.

Really, you have to tip your hat.

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1I can't link directly to the on-line version. A shame that, but at least it is on-line.

To access the article select publication year "2010" then select Edition "Volume32 No6" and then scroll down until you see the logo for "....this latest threat to cask ale......" that is BrewDog.

2Take care to note capitalisation, it is so important. Alfie, are you listening?

3No, really, there is one bloke in our "local" who drinks nothing else. He even puts up with a short pint of Guinness so he can still fit in his WKD - there is really no accounting for taste.

19 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

I trust it is known as a "Black and Blue".

HardKnott Dave said...

Don't know what they call it, he just plonks his glass on the bar and the drink is dispensed without question in exchange for a worryingly large amount of money considering the monstrosity that it is.

Do the Irish do this sort of thing?

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

I just typed four disparate comments and then deleted each one. I think I need to have a pint each of cask and keg (6 of each on the bar right now) and return hither.

Tim said...

Proper Real Keg is making it's way to the front of the queue.

I have been pushing this cause for a number of years now> Why would any brewery risk its reputation at the point of sale?

Whorst said...

Damn straight! It's about time Proper Real Keg got a nod!!

The Beer Nut said...

No, we don't. At least not where I drink. I haven't even seen Guinness & Black in about 15 years.

StringersBeer said...

"set out to wind up some cask hard-liners" no shit. And watch 'em go.

Phil said...

Give me the choice between a pint of Pedigree on cask or a pint of Trashy on keg which do you think I'd choose? Which would you choose?

Er, the Pedigree. Was that a trick question?

All the BrewDog beers I've had on cask have been good, and some of them have been amazing. All the BDs I've had in bottle have been a bit ho-hum. Why would keg be any better?

Why is crap cask made by major national brewers, like Marston's for instance, considered craft?

I don't think anyone does. It's considered "real ale" because it meets the definition of "real ale" (which Zak handily links to here). What the definition of "craft beer" is... well, I've been writing about that myself.

HardKnott Dave said...

BUL180 - you see, great keg beers can be found in your part of the world. But is cask getting any better or is your place the last real bit of progress in that direction?

Tim/Whorst, it is interesting that you guys have been a little quieter now that there is a little more general noise about keg.....

The Beer Nut, oh good, I was worried that if I ever did make it over there I'd be forced to drink some grotesque beer cocktail.

Stringers, it is getting rather amusing.....

Phil, really? It amazes me just how deep this prejudice runs. It's as bad as saying that all lager is rubbish. I used to say that, I've had my eyes opened. The ONLY thing that sets Marston's beer aside from smooth flow, Guinness or mass produced lager is the fact that it is cask, and that is simply not good enough any more.

Actually, I'd rather have a Guinness, thinking about it.

Ed said...

Is there really a 'burgeoning march of craft keg'? As far as I can see it hardly exists.

HardKnott Dave said...

Erm..... Ed, I'm taking the piss.

That's my point, it's not burgeoning, but the objectors, unintentionally, are only helping it along the way.

It's getting quite funny really.

Phil said...

Not prejudice, just experience (or lack of). I've drunk very few keg beers in my time, and most of those have been over-chilled, over-carbonated and over here... oops, wrong rant. Too cold, too gassy and - more to the point - lacking something on the flavour front: a kind of flatness, a lack of development. I know it is possible to make keg beer that does have that extra dimension, it's just a lot harder and a lot rarer.

(And if I'm honest I probably would go for a half of the Trashy, just to see what it's like. But I'd reserve my right to switch to Pedigree, or else get a bottle of something decent.)

Tim said...

@Phil said "I've drunk very few keg beers in my time"

This is a little unsettling. You are claiming in an earlier comment that cask is always better, but you have yet to even sample the kool-aid that is proper real keg.

In the scriptures John 4:1-38 tells the story about how Jesus (aka Hardkott Dave, Brewdog, Lovibonds, Meantime etc) gave proper real keg to the Samaritans (aka CAMRA Types) and they never thirsted again. Phil, let Dave, Brewdog or whoever baptise you into the Church of proper real keg.

Whorst said...

i've had so many shit pints of real ale it's laughable really. How anyone could argue that Proper Real Keg is somehow less of a libation due to the use of extraneous co2 is probably retarded. Lets see...Warm, flat, vinegar, or properly chilled, fresh, Proper Real Keg?
And generally speaking, PRK is full of hoppy goodness.
Unlike those crazy English beers that use .25oz of Goldings in the cask for dry hops.

Phil said...

let Dave, Brewdog or whoever baptise you into the Church of proper real keg.

Ha.

A couple of bloggers I know recently sampled the Gospel According to Thornbridge. Tandleman:

I even tried some Real Keg. Thornbridge Kipling it was and very nice too. Not as subtle as the cask version and it was spikily carbonated and very cold.

Mark, in comments on that post:

Spot on description of the Kipling. It was good if not as subtle as it in cask, and I assume pretty reliable in keg. Not as good as cask but I'd rather see kegged Kipling than kegged Carling if I had the choice.

Proper Real Keg, minus points:
"spikily carbonated"
"very cold"
flavour "not as subtle"

Proper Real Keg, plus points:
"pretty reliable"

It's deja vu all over again!

Tim said...

@Phil don't you think that CAMRA's very own blogging star Tandleman's opinions might be slightly biased?

Pure ignorance again. Cold is how beer is supposed to be drunk. Sure some people prefer the more subtle taste of cask, but shouldn't the consumer have the right to a choice of cask or proper real keg?

Plus if Tandy and Dregdy told you that drinking cyanide was the thing to do would you believe them?

Try some for yourself, look past the handpumps

Phil said...

don't you think that CAMRA's very own blogging star Tandleman's opinions might be slightly biased?

Not really, no. I think it's much simpler to assume that he said the beer was "very nice" because it was very nice, and he said it was "spikily carbonated and very cold" because it was cold and fizzy.

Pure ignorance again. Cold is how beer is supposed to be drunk.

Just out of interest, Tim, roughly how many years ago did you start drinking beer?

As for "Tandy and Dredgy", Dredge is all for craft keg marching on, burgeoning as it goes. I agree with Tandleman quite a lot; I disagree with Dredge quite often. Sometimes I even write down my own opinions, and other people agree and/or disagree with me. It's all good fun.

Phil said...

Hang on a minute, I've just checked Tim's blog, and I have a proposal for him. Tim, we're probably never going to agree on anything. If you don't wind me up, I won't wind you up. OK? (Although you're owed one after that last comment of mine.)

Tim said...

I'm not winding anyone up. Don't knock proper real keg without trying it first.

BTW _ I have been drinking beer for 17 years and brewing for 12, with 10 of those years being dedicated to all grain brewing.

But this just makes me sound like a pisshead, ratherthan someone who loves and has some kind of formal education in beer related things.