Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Steam beer


Seems like that there’s a lot of steam being blown about regarding craft beer etc in the world of CAMRA at the moment. In the letters pages of the current issue of What’s Brewing a couple of correspondents seem to be standing up for craft keg: ‘while a good pint of cask ale is always going to be nicer than a keg beer, these newer beers are not, as Peter Jackson writes (WB, Jan), the spawn of Satan’; ‘CAMRA should be all-encompassing, supporting and promoting all good beer, whether it is real or craft’. Then on page 7 there’s a piece with the headline ‘Taste not ideology must rule’; this is written by Jim Scott who has been in CAMRA since 1988 and the line that jumped out at me was this one: ‘I think we should judge with our palates and not ideology or — heaven help us — be shackled to that obstructive corpse called tradition. We should welcome the newcomers as separate but, unlike their effervescent predecessors, equal, and unashamedly enjoy both’. 

However, CAMRA also have their AGM coming up in Norwich and the Bradford Branch has put forward a motion, part of which says: (this Conference) ‘recognises and asserts that the terms ‘craft ale’, ‘craft beer’, ‘craft keg’ and similar terms are meaningless and misleading. Conference therefore instructs that these (and similar) terms should not be used in any CAMRA communications and publications except where absolutely necessary, for example when quoting other sources and use of the term cannot be avoided. Where it is absolutely necessary to use any such term in CAMRA’s communications and publications, the qualifier (sic) should be used after the term and where appropriate the term should be put in inverted commas.’ 

Some interesting conflicts seem to be arising here and I expect the steam to keep billowing for some time yet, though while all this agonising is going on more and more great beer is being made and drinkers are not worrying what container it arrives in. 

8 comments:

  1. while all this agonising is going on more and more great beer is being made and drinkers are not worrying what container it arrives in

    I don't like keg beers because I find them too cold, too fizzy and lacking in the depth of flavour equivalent beers have on cask. I've tried keg beers from Magic Rock, BrewDog and Red Willow, among others - brewers whose cask beers have consistently blown me away - and never been impressed.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't be brewed - some people like them, and they can fill their boots, it's no skin off my nose. But when people prefer cask it's not (necessarily) just a matter of prejudice or ideology - there is a real difference in the beers themselves.

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  2. Phil please don’t get the impression that I am anti-CAMRA as I have been accused of recently (I’m a member for heaven’s sake) but I want choice and there is an element of fanaticism on both sides — incidentally I had a half of Bath Ales Dark on keg this lunchtime in Bath and then a pint of their Rare Hare on cask; I prefered the Dark, and at the moment I have a half of Wild Beer’s Fresh to hand, have only had it on keg before, I think it is really superb in cask. I think the motion at the CAMRA agm is a bit of a tub-thumper and as someone who writes in Beer and for CAMRA Books (currently) I find the idea of what words I can use a bit dictatorial.

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  3. If you described the Queen as “Mrs Windsor” or “the so-called Queen” in the Telegraph it would be edited out, and you wouldn’t expect that it wouldn’t be. Surely every publication can have a line and a house style?

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  4. Good idea, I’ll try it next time I review a pub called Mrs Windsor’s Arms — seriously though, house style is about consistency, good grammar, maintaining standards rather than how you feel ideologically or emotionally about something. I know I am not alone amongst CAMRA beer writers in feeling this way.

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  5. Didn't realise I was toeing the line by refusing to use that ridiculous phrase "craft beer". It's misleading, too, as much "craft beer" is actually made in shiny hi-tech factories.

    I've nothing against the beers themselves, but the term "craft beer" is bullshit.

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  6. I'll add that I equally dislike the term "real ale" preferring "cask-conditioned".

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  7. Hi Ron, I’ve always like cask beer, but craft beer doesn’t worry me at all, though I have to smile when I hear evangelists denouncing industrial beer, brewing is an industrial process last time I looked.

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