Tuesday, 6 December 2016

We're better than the Bank of England

Five Pound Note - not vegan friendly
Apparently the new five pound note has traces of tallow in it. Tallow comes form cows, mainly. Veggies, vegans and Hindus for instance are getting upset about this.  This is a bit of a shame as I quite like the new more durable version. It occurred to me however that our bottled and keg beers have been free from all animal products for several years, but we just haven't really made a big deal out of it.

As it so happens, before the meaty five pound note scandalwe had already started to get our labels revamped to reflect the fact that our bottled beers are indeed significantly more vegan friendly than the five pound note.

We'd been spurred into action earlier in the year when CAMRA also performed a silly cock-up by making a big fuss about isinglass2. Silly old CAMRA, after all, it is only really cask beer that uses such finings. Dirty scummy keg beer and bottled beers that are not "Real" will certainly not contain isinglass. So the bulk of the beer CAMRA was campaigning for was in fact the very thing they were on that occasion complaining about.

Hardknot Bottled Beer - very vegan friendly

The first of these new labels have started to be used on new bottles we're producing, watch out for them on your next beer buying spree.


1To be honest, I'm having a struggle calling it a scandal. It's an unfortunate oversight caused by the fact that much of industry uses by-products of animals during manufacture. Most of us are blissfully unaware and would not make the effort to check. Vegans do care and can avoid purchasing products containing such animal derived compounds. Of course as the five pound not is now is fairly wide-spread circulation it is difficult to avoid using it if you do care. A rather silly and embarrassing thing to have happened. Rather than calling a scandal I'd prefer to use the term silly cock-up.

2I am sure most readers of this blog do not need me to explain about isinglass, but just in case....cask beer is generally racked direct from the primary fermenter into the cask. It may well have quite a high loading of yeast and other debris. The brewer puts a does of isinglass into the cask to help the suspended solids drop out once the cask is laid nicely in the pub cellar. The trouble is isinglass is manufactured from fish stuff. I'm not a vegan, but I still object to it because the stuff is quite horrible. It is often given the nickname of whale jiz, which is a fairly accurate description of it's appearance.


Unknown said...

I think you should offer an exchange scheme - swap a meaty fiver for a bottle of vegan beer.

To try to set the record straight (again) in my continuing effort to shovel this beer myth zombie in the face, we never made a big fuss about isinglass. As part of the promotion of the Good Beer Guide this year we highlighted Roger's interesting article showcasing some brewers who were exploring alternatives. We don't have a campaign against it. We didn't call for brewers to use something different. The rest is extremely frustrating, misreported history.

Liking the new bottle animation thingies by the way - how do you do that?

The Completely Anonymous CAMRA Head of Communications.

HardknottDave said...

That is a splendid idea. If I could get a meaty fiver for each and every bottle I'd be doing alright!

Animations? After Effects. Lots of time. Far too much time. And just a little bit of genius, of course.

About this isinglass thing; I do dislike upsetting good people, even completely anonymous ones. I can understand the frustrations about intentions becoming misrepresented. Really I do. How information we all produce is manipulated by the channels that connect it to the people we might want to get it, or even don't want to get it is largely out of our control.

Unfortunately the way that particular story broke resonated with the way I want to promote the ethos of Hardknott. Sorry.

But it's a tough old world out here and Real Ale is very difficult to make in the true traditional way, from open fermenters right into the cask without the use of isinglass. Some form of conditioning tank, with a blanket of gas is used. Is that still Real Ale? Cask beer that does not use isinglass is either a bit cloudy, or the yeast count in cask is too low to be called Real Ale. We have no choice in our market that to use some isinglass in cask. It is not commercially sensible for our cask beer to be declared vegan, because it removes our ability to get it bright enough for our market.

The vast majority of pubs and drinkers want beer that is bright as a pin. There is a tiny market that is happy for it to have a haze, and perhaps that is growing a little, but not as fast, as far as I can see, as micro-brewed keg. As I say, it's a tough old market out here at the moment, and I'm not on PAYE, so I can only offer a personal apology for attacking a convenient chink in CAMRA armour.

I think the future is unfiltered, brewery conditioned keg beer. The traditional cask market is significantly over-saturated. Beer dropped bright in tank, but not stripped of its more exciting flavours by filtration or pasteurisation and packaged in formats that hit the right market has some legs I feel. This is how we want our beers to be seen. It is an unfortunate fact that in the markets I want to penetrate it is easier to make a noise by finding the ways in which we are different, and pointing out which products meet with certain needs of the end consumer. It might mean that sometimes good friends get upset as we do that.

Again, sorry about that.