The handpump: the fetishism of dispense

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2016 by kmflett

The handpump: the fetishism of dispense


As I’ve noted while Ive been a CAMRA member since 1975 I don’t fetishise the method of beer dispense.

The beer engine or handpump was patented by Joseph Bramah in 1797, though I’m not sure if there is a standard study of the spread of its use.

Cask beer or real ale, not requiring anything beyond gravity to serve it, can come straight from the barrel or by various forms of, in effect, air pressure of which the handpump is one.

There is a significant debate on acceptable methods of dispense and the impact this may or may not have on the beer itself. My view is, carry on debating, I’m more interested in what the beer tastes like.

I don’t therefore fetishise the method of beer dispense.

Yet there is more to be said, not strictly related to dispense but more to brand and image.

Cask beer is associated in the drinker’s mind, I’d suggest, with the handpump. Of course there are other perfectly acceptable ways of selling real ale. Beer Engines need not take the form of handpumps.

But, again, if you want to brand something as a real ale, the handpump is the most powerful icon there is.

Hence when Watneys brought back cask after a period of keg only production, while they initially used electric engines, it wasn’t long before the handpump appeared.

That leads me to Brewdog’s current and welcome move to produce a ‘live’ or real ale. In their pubs it is being sold as if through a keg tap. Given that Brewdog is strongly associated with image and brand I wonder why. Aside from hubris wouldn’t a handpump make the point more strikingly?


One Response to “The handpump: the fetishism of dispense”

  1. I regret to say, I do fetishize handpumps. Especially when there is a lady pulling the beer.

    Pathetic, I know, but there it is. 😉

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