Thursday, 2 June 2011

Bad definition

Continuing the theme of blogeratti and craft keg, I noticed in The Cask Report the following definition;
"Keg beer:
Beer that has been pasteurized and/or filtered to remove any yeast, before being sealed in a pressurized container.
It is then dispensed with the aide of CO2, nitrogen or a mix of the two to give fizz or ‘smoothflow’ texture."


The author, Pete Brown, is well known for his broad appreciation of beer, including both keg and cask. Shame the definition is wrong, my keg beer is neither filtered nor pasteurised.

40 comments:

RedNev said...

You're right of course: the definition is faulty, but surely that's no surprise, considering who wrote it!

Velky Al said...

In my experience most US craft beers are filtered but not pasteurised before being kegged. Many US attempts at cask though are filled straight from primary without being primed.

Pete Brown said...

Red Nev - that was what CAMRA wanted to go in, as backers of a report on cask ale. If you're implying by your fatuous comment that I often write erroneous copy, please elaborate.

HardKnott Dave said...

Nev, what has Pete done to upset you? He has his faults, but other than his choice of shirts, he's a good guy really.

Al, most keg beer is in fact just like the definition. I just know that not all of it is.

Pete, thanks, I thought it was a CAMRA definition. It's been bothering me at every version printed. It is an example of how CAMRA does actively and inaccurately denigrate keg. Do you think it could be changed next time?

StringersBeer said...

Well, according to CAMRA "[keg] beer is chilled and filtered to remove all the yeast, and pasteurised to make a sterile product". So there. :-)
here

ZakAvery said...

Pete, Dave - I think perhaps Nev is implying that CAMRA are a co-author of the report with Pete.

I wonder what the ratio is of crap, industrial filtered keg to 'craft' keg in the UK? I bet it's less than the volume of cask beer at the GBBF vs bottled beer on the BSF bar. And yet what sort of person would try to insist that the GBBF is anything other than a cask ale festival?

File under "constructive disagreement".

Ed said...

Hmmm...I've blogged about this one. I estimated that definition would be right 99.9% of the time. What percentage would you put it at Dave?

Barm said...

It's the use of the term that the brewing industry and the trade has used in Britain for 40 years. No surprise that people are confused when you start using it to mean something else.

Why not think of a new term that makes it clear what kind of beer you're talking about? Unpasteurised Container Beer or something.

RedNev said...

Well, Pete, it's your name on the report. I've considered that definition inaccurate for some time now, for precisely the reasons that Dave gave. In your position I'd have challenged CAMRA about it, but you didn't. It's not good enough to say you were under orders from CAMRA.

Tandleman said...

But they are all containers Barm, so that won't do.

Bit of a problem for the craft keg boys that. Of course even of the new wave keg, I assume some of that will be filtered and even some pasteurised. It is a tricky one.

Best not worry about it.

HardKnott Dave said...

You are all right that the volume of keg that does not fit the definition above is very small. But, and I think this is a very important but, the bit that does not match is extremely important to me and many other beer fans like me.

I do worry about it, and so long as people tell me I should not worry about it I shall fight this corner.

Whilst a form of beer that is good is constantly attacked as being bad I shall be part of any attempts to overturn such denigration.

Equally, although the definition is accurate for a large majority of keg, the definition is also subtly but deliberately negative. If the report can't be positive then the definition should just be left out.

Tandleman said...

"Whilst a form of beer that is good is constantly attacked as being bad"

Nobody ever answers my point about craft keg beer being served with 2.8 vols or more of CO2 and that it is just too fizzy to be enjoyable or to drink very much of it.

Perhaps you'll have a bash Dave.

HardKnott Dave said...

Tandleman, actually, like you, I don't like overly carbonated beer either, but I think you know that. For this reason I try hard to keep carbonation levels low in my keg beers.

However, I'm not sure we represent a majority view on the matter. My next post was going to be on that very subject.

Tandleman said...

But how do you keep them low when served?

StringersBeer said...

Ed, "right 99.9% of the time" = 100% wrong 0.1% of the time.
If we qualify the definition, "usually", "typically", etc, we could be just plain right. Wouldn't that be better?

Barm said...

I chose "container" as that was the word used for what we now call keg, back in the days when what we now call real ale was just called "draught beer".

The reason brewers are getting so keen on this is that they see the chance to get their beer into all the second-rate bars that can't be arsed with real ale. Fat chance of those places taking care to set the gas pressure properly to avoid over carbonation. They'll just scoosh it out like the Peroni and Hoegaarden. It's a beer disaster waiting to happen.

Tandleman said...

Barm - I think in a lot of places that disaster has happened. It is all just too fizzy. For this drinker at least, though I note what Dave says.

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

Tandleman - I was talking to Dean from Mr Foleys about this last night as theyve just started serving craft keg. He said they can adjust the CO2 being used for each beer accordingly, so the 'craft beer' Odell IPA gets much less CO2 than the macro lagers also. He said it's literally a dial that they can adjust accordingly. Any brewer senidng out there beer can give advice on the correct CO2 level.

Does that answer your question?

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

*why was my reply full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? Bring on the weekend already....

HardKnott Dave said...

Balm, it's far more complex a situation than that. There are some places that can never have reliable throughput right through the week to be able to serve real ale. While I have no argument with the fact that there are bars that will make an arse of any beer, there are also plenty that really do care. Keg can provide choice in areas where choice is not currently provided.

The sort of negative attitude towards keg is inhibiting an area of potentially great beer development. I would agree that brewers need to work with bars to ensure that things work well, but this applies to all beer.

As I was typing this my email buzzed with Neil's comment - perfect timing and saves me answering further than to say Port Street asked me what pressure to set when I delivered the other day.

Tandleman said...

Barm and Dave - I know they can and should, but most don't and most brewers don't tell them anyway.

As a matter of interest what pressure did you suggest?

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

I too hate this definition and think I flamed Pete for it at the time...

...I know it is a small percentage, but just so everyone here understands reality. You DO NOT have to filter beer to put it into a keg (FULL STOP)

If the brewer knows what they are doing, there should be no change in dissolved CO2 levels in keg beer while being dispensed. It is pretty simple physics.

What seems to fizzy for Tandyman isn't for a majority...What percentage of beer drunk in Britian is cold and fizzy? Maybe Pete can help, but I'm sure it is 85-90%?

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

Tand - I think you're being a bit unfair with this: "I know they can and should, but most don't and most brewers don't tell them anyway."

It's like a hardcore keg advocate saying "most pubs cant be bothered to look after their real ale, which is why it's always in bad condition." It's too sweeping a statement.

The places that are going to be serving craft keg do care enough to serve the beer under the correct CO2 pressue, and the breweries who are making it (of which I admit there are few in the UK) will advise on correct levels. That's not to say i've never had craft keg that's been overly fizzy or too cold. But I've also had underconditioned, sour pints of real ale. Should we avoid both formats because of their respective pitfalls?

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

Jeff - But that 85% aren't the target audience who would drink craft keg. The people who drink real ale are the target audience, people who are into 'good beer', which is the point Tand is making.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Sorry Neil, but you are totally wrong on that one. Every day I convert people that drink cold mega swill to drinking cold craft beer.

Most people that drink real ale are like Tandyman and wouldn't touch a craft keg with a barge pole for fear that the CO2 will poison them somehow.

Craft keg reaches out to the majority of beer drinkers in Britain. There are loads of real ale breweries to keep the real ale fundamentalist happy...

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

So you think that for example the target audience of a place like the euston tap is macro lager drinkers? Not people who have been enjoying quality 'craft' produced real ale?

Couldnt disagree more. Also, to say 'you are totally wrong' is a very bold statement. You are one person, and even if you have converted a few buddies onto craft beer, that doesnt make what you are saying any more right on a national scale.

A pint of Jaipur on keg tastes similar to Jaipur on cask, but it tastes absolutely nothing like a pint of lager. Jaipur in keg is marketed to people who used to drink it on cask, not at your everyday lager drinker.

HardKnott Dave said...

Bloody hell guys, You were all commenting on this as I was editing and publishing a further post on the subject.

I think this only leaves me to answer Tandleman's question; 20psi, which in my own trials seemed good. I'll admit that I have yet to settle on a final specifications, and a few more volumes vrs temperature and pressure charts need to be consulted. And of course customer comments will feed into the process.

Jeff Rosenmeier said...

Okay totally wrong was out of line.

But your comment took it the other way saying that the market of craft keg is the real ale drinker, of which I do still totally disagree (Thornbridge are different, they are predominately a real ale brewery).

When I think real ale drinker I think beard, sandals and Tandyman. These people do not (and will never) drink craft keg beer.

There is a new drinker in Britain that understands both real ale and craft beer in general that will swing both ways and most of them will be found at Euston Tap.

I talk to my customers ever day and the vast majority of them used to be lager heads. My gateway beer was wheat beer and now most of them Rock our biggest IPA. That is the new world.

The Fundamentalist Real Ale drinker will look at the taps, turnaround and walk out the door.

Peace.

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

I agree!

now lets all go get a beer...

Tandleman said...

A couple of points. When I said "most don't and most brewers don't tell them anyway" I was quoting none other than Glyn the manager of the famous Rake. I didn't say so mind.

As for bad cask, I have said repeatedly until I am blue in the face, that quality at the point of dispense is and always will be cask's weak point.

My view is that to the cask ale drinker, being over gassed and sometimes way too cold is keg's weakness, though if Jeff is right and frankly I have no idea, but am happy to take his word for it, then that shouldn't be a problem.

And Jeff, I do try keg whenever I can - UK keg that is - and would have done so again last night in the Port St Beer House, but all they had was the usual BrewDog - the rest was imported. I already know how fizzy that is.

So "Most people that drink real ale are like Tandyman and wouldn't touch a craft keg with a barge pole for fear that the CO2 will poison them somehow."

Not true and anyway, Jeff, I thought we'd put all that behind us.

As for Neil: "A pint of Jaipur on keg tastes similar to Jaipur on cask". No, it certainly doesn't in my view. Maybe Jeff and I can agree on that? (-;

Ed said...

"There is a new drinker in Britain that understands both real ale and craft beer in general that will swing both ways and most of them will be found at Euston Tap."

I knew there weren't many of them! ;-)

Ed said...

"Ed, "right 99.9% of the time" = 100% wrong 0.1% of the time."

If by ignoring keg taps and going for the hand pumps I miss out on the one in a thousand chance of having 'craft keg' instead of cask beer I'm not really bothered. The 'craft keg' I've tried has still been too cold and fizzy for my taste.

Tandleman said...

Ed

(-:

Barm said...

Jeff is completely right about the target market. It's not people who drink real ale. It's people who currently drink Erdinger, Krusovice or Hoegaarden. People who are (in their own minds) drinkers of a higher quality product.

StringersBeer said...

But Ed, you didn't say that 99.9% of the time the available cask is better than the available keg. You estimated that something like 99.9% of keg beer in the UK is filtered. By volume, I'm sure you're right.

And of course you're free to prefer yer real ale to the cold fizzy beer. I happen to agree with you.

The question is whether it's sensible to stick to a blanket "definition" of "keg" which is demonstrably wrong - if only in a minority of cases - and thereby denigrate the brewers seeking to produce quality products for this market. This doesn't seem like a very sensible position to me.

Preferring real ale can't be justification for making untrue assertions about another brewers product. Surely?

Barm said...

Which is precisely why it is incumbent on brewers to find a new term that will be understood as meaning unpasteurised, unfiltered beer served by gas pressure. Saying "keg is just a vessel" is about as much use as saying that all beer exists so should all qualify as "real".

StringersBeer said...

Barm, have I got this right, you're saying that "keg" is precisely what CAMRA say it is? i.e. pasturised, pressurised, filtered. And anyone putting anything else in a, er, keg has to use a different word? I can understand camRA feeling a bit proprietorial about the term "Real Ale", but "keg" seems rather outside the campaign's ambit.

Isn't this a bit like Humpty Dumpty saying "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

Barm said...

I'm not saying you have to; I'm saying it would be a good idea, if you want people to understand that you are selling something different to what they are used to talking about as "keg".

StringersBeer said...

Barm, I suspect that there may be some "people" who neither know nor care that most kegged beer is filtered. So which people's understanding are you concerned about? CAMRA members? People who read CAMRA (sponsored) publications? Surely getting the terminology right is "incumbent on" CAMRA in that case?

Pete Brown said...

Nev, I'll change the definition next time. But I'd still like an explanation of your 'considering who wrote it' line please.