Three Bullet Tuesday – January 17

Cask confessions, Meantime and Finding comfort in the UK craft scene

  • Cask confessions: Now that Pete Brown has made cask confessions de riguer, I have one of my own. I’m a caskophobe. Ok, maybe that’s a little strong – it’s not that I hate cask beer but as a preference it sits below keg, bottle, can…I guess it’s at the bottom of the list. Let me try and defend that stance. I didn’t grow up in the UK but rather the warmer climes of the anitpodes. Growing up in Australia, cold, carbonated keg beer is king and rightly so given the hot and humid conditions. Unlike in other parts of the world, it would be hard to argue that cask is revered by the Australian beer drinker – it’s perhaps seen as a British eccentricity and even derided as warm, flat beer. I’ve enjoyed reading the tsunami of content is response to Cloudwater’s announcement; in some corners reinforcing my own views and in others places educating me on what cask beer is all about. One irony I see in all this, at least in my own perception, is that as a (non-cask) craft beer drinker you tolerate the occasional bad beer from a small producer yet we frown at the poor quality of cask beer. But questions remain for me, so rather than remain ignorant, I am keen to learn more about cask beer to help me understand why it is held in such esteem by some – any ‘cask guides’ welcome!

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Note: Pete McKerry has kept track of a lot of responses to Cloudwater’s blog post on his own blog, check it out. I particular enjoyed this post from Siren Craft Brewery and another from Conor Murphy.

  • Meantime: the Greenwich-based brewery took time out of being handed around by corporate owners to announce it was teaming up with well-funded, well-connected Silicon Valley start-up 23andMe.com to produce Meantime Bespoke, a new service that offers beer matching your DNA to our taste preferences. In an online post on their website this is explained as ‘assess hereditary variations in your oral taste receptors to reveal genetic variants that could explain personal preferences to ward specific flavour profiles’. Or in other terms, use science to tell you what you probably already know – your taste preference. All for the princely sum of £25,000 for an easily transportable 2,000 pints. The proclaimed benefit of all this? ‘Unprecedented bragging rights with your mates’. Good luck to them. But this is taking the concept of using your body parts as ingredients one step further than before. Australian brewery 7 cent made headlines with a beer brewed with yeast captured from belly button fluff for the 2016 GABS festival. Oregon’s Rogue Ale’s who brewed a beer using yeast cultivated from the beard of Brewmaster John Maier. I did try one of these beers not that long along, and while it was a decent enough beer, it was a little funkier than you would want from a beer of this nature. I would hate to spend my spare £25k to find out my DNA is farmhouse funk.

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  • Finding comfort in the UK craft scene: anyone who follows my twitter feed (@bushcraftbeer) would have seen that I was in Australia recently on holiday. The weather was great as was spending time with friends and family. Some of the beer was great too. My highlight was the Moo Brewery Pilsner. While it was great to try some new drops, the prevalence of 4-5% ABV Summer Ales, Pacific Ales and Pale Ales, many of which are brewed by ‘craft brands’ of larger breweries, left me wanting more. What I didn’t expect is that it left me really appreciating what we have here in the UK all the more.

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Author: Michael Lally

London-based Australian blogger, podcaster and wannabe photographer. Looking to tell great stories about the world of craft beer and the have conversations with the people behind the craft beer scene in the UK.

1 thought on “Three Bullet Tuesday – January 17”

  1. There’s no certainty in this but this might be some small evidence to Pete Brown’s recent article – as cask beer in consistently decent quantity is hard to come by unless you frequent the right pubs/bars it might be that your opinion of it has been negatively affected by it through unknowingly drinking poor quality stuff.

    There’s certainly some emotional attachment for some to cask beer and it’s enjoyed by them as it’s a traditional British product and that alone is enough to justify drinking it for them. But, from a more technical/brewing science reason there’s the matter of conditioning – the action of a tiny amount of yeast left in the cask to help bring the beer to its peak. This peak is a devil to hit and it’s very easy for a poorly-managed venue to serve beer that’s under-conditioned (Tastes a bit, for want of a better word “green”) or over conditioned (Tastes a bit stale) but for a venue that does it it means their beer is consistently of excellent quality and it has a certain je ne sais quoi.

    Speaking personally I’ll always try a new keg beer if there’s one on but, if I’m going to a pub for a session I’ll almost always stick to decent cask beer if there’s some on and there’re no beers in particular I want to try. The best experience for me is helping to organise a local CAMRA festival with over 80 cask ales. The evening before we opened we vented the casks and tasted them to make sure they were fit for service. No-one did all 80+ of course but I did about 20-25 and I really got the idea of condition and what it meant between beers. To develop that further, any beers that were under conditioned were kept off sale and checked at the start of each session to see if they were ready yet and I was able to appreciate the slight change in flavour as a particular beer approached that peak condition.

    Despite all this, never neglect the matter of personal taste – there will always be people who feel that kegged beer is over carbonated. That’s their personal taste and they’re entitled to an informed opinion. Don’t feel that you have to like cask because loads of other people do – learn more about it by all means but don’t let the FOMO take hold. No matter how many people bang on about Buxton & Omnipollo’s Yellow Belly, having tried it it’ll never be a beer for me.

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