Is Pete Brown right on cask beer? Up to a point Lord Copper..

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2017 by kmflett


The widely read hirsute beer writer Pete Brown has added an important contribution to the debate on the future of cask beer here:

On the whole I agree with him, and I’ve already said so. I drink more ‘craft keg’ than cask these days even though I still think that properly conditioned and served there is nothing to beat cask beer.

The problem as Pete Brown rightly notes lies in that ‘properly conditioned and served’ area. There are some pubs I can think of who know how to condition a beer, when it is condition, and if it is then fine to serve (that is clear- if fined- with no off-notes). Unfortunately there are not so many of them.

CAMRA’s Revitalisation Report (latest one) recognises these as being real issues for cask- and they suggest training and education is needed. It also mentions a further point that Pete Brown doesnt really touch on.

Namely that too much cask beer, even though it may be in good condition and well served is dull and bland and just not something I want to drink (given that I will be drinking limited amounts). CAMRA says it plans to investigate how much secondary fermentation in the cask actually takes place in some well known cask brands. Good.

Of course there are  reasons for this and here again Pete Brown is right in echoing concerns about market competition and price cutting meaning that not particularly well made beers are churned out at low cost to get on bar tops. That is about as far away from cask being the pinnacle of beer as you can get.

Pete Brown’s contribution to the debate on the way ahead for cask is important but it requires drinkers to organise and act- over to CAMRA.

There is an urgent need to improve the quality of cask ale on bar tops in at least some areas. I enjoy craft keg but the majority of beer drinkers by a long way drink cask and often do so where no ‘craft’ alternative is currently available anyway.

Publicans,, breweries and PubCos can help here and the Cask Marque scheme showed what could be done, as Roger Protz has noted:

But the world has moved on a bit and it underlines the importance of CAMRA as a campaigning organisation. It needs to be out there pressing for excellent cask and calling it out when that isnt the case. Of course that already happens but making it happen more is now urgent

5 Responses to “Is Pete Brown right on cask beer? Up to a point Lord Copper..”

  1. One of my gripes about some of the pubs in the GBG is that they are “political ” entries & don’t always serve cask at its best. Too much average beer available in these pubs but they are still supported by local CAMRA Branch members. Its back in the GBG again cos it was in last year’s & it’s the Chairman’s local. My commitment to selling quality cask ale is second to none. However, when I go to other pubs, which is not very often nowadays, I get served lots of average cask ale. I agree with you. When you are not drinking much beer what you do drink should be interesting & good quality.

  2. Following a twitter conversation… I do feel that conditioning and cellaring cask correctly is not overly difficult and pretty fun and satisfying! If someone could create a simple informative poster diagram of the conditioning process for pubs to put in cellars for staff I think this would hugely help. Also it would be a massive improvement if breweries added a label to each cask with recommended settling/venting/tapping times for that beer (every beer is different!)

  3. It’s clear (and has been for a long time) that the Cask Marque scheme is well past its sell-by-date. A re-invigoration of how to keep beer in good condition (applies to keg as well as cask by the way) is an important direction which CAMRA needs to take.

    • In relation to Cask Marque it may well be past its sell by date . However, being in the trade I trust it more than a GBG entry. At least my beer is checked properly twice a year by an ex brewer. I have been at CAMRA Branch meetings where a pub is put forward cos it’s been in for the last few years, and “we’ve not had any complaints about the beer”. Alternatively, some pubs have been removed cos nobody in the branch has been in for nearly a year. Very scientific! To me there is a big issue about cask ale quality in many pubs that are supported by CAMRA branch members & officials. I can’t see this changing in the near future.

  4. […] | Pete Brown, KM Flett, Connor Murphy & The Malting […]

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