Karaoke drayman for a morning I am, taking an emptied cask of Revival back to its source, Moor Brewery on the sun-drenched, green-limbed glory that is the Somerset Levels in the summer (it’s a different matter in January when the low clouds and gloom hang about like a pestilence). A moment’s chat with Moor’s Justin Hawke, about something he told me about several weeks ago — keg conditioned beer. A need to get it clear in my head before writing about it, as the science of brewing sometimes eludes me (when I was at school chemistry and physics were as mysterious as the reasons why Piers Morgan is a global success). According to Justin, a call came from a Danish importer for a beer or three. No casks to be sent that far (as they are precious for all breweries) and no bottles were ready, so the Danish guy sent kegs to be filled, which would on their return have been served chilled and under gas. Hawke, prior to letting all this happen, did a trial keg of Somerland Gold, yeast in the beer, and got it served side by side with the cask version at the Queens Arms in Corton Denham. On the day, hot it was, the keg was more enjoyable went the consensus. And for the purists, please note, it was served under gas and chilled but naturally conditioned in the keg. So Hawke said to the importer that he would fill them with naturally conditioning beer, though due to a lack of finings (he likes to dispense without finings wherever commercially possible) it would be hazy. The beer went down well and requests started to come in from other countries. And then the Queens and the Devonshire Arms at Long Sutton took it. At the latter, the nearest pub to the actual brewery, Peat Porter goes down well as an alternative to Guinness. Hawke used to live in Germany and cites Keller-type beers as a similar experience. ‘As far as I can see no one is doing this,’ he says, ‘it’s a great way of getting cool naturally conditioned beer in the summer.’ This concept has been taken further in Hong Kong, where Moor’s beers have been put into kegs and the bar concerned can serve them either through a keg font or a handpump. So what’s the big deal? The beer is cooler but it’s still naturally conditioned — Hawke reports that out of about 100 CAMRA types who have tried it down the Devonshire, only a couple have grimaced and taken the righteous route. Hawke could be onto something here and I look forward to trying some soon.
i soooo want to try this! i love moor beers, i can just imagine revival on keg.....ReplyDelete
It's the thin end of a slippery wedge, or something. Do this again AND YOU'LL ALL BE DRINKING RED BARREL BY CHRISTMAS!!!1!ReplyDelete
Sounds perfect. I hope it goes into UK distribution too.ReplyDelete
Sounds like the sort of set up most homebrewers have. I do prefer my beer clear though.ReplyDelete
Where's the pressure coming from if not from gas?ReplyDelete
Told you I wasn’t good with science, thanks to Barm’s question I have just been on the phone to Justin at Moor and the beer is served under gas (post changed slightly) —it can also be depressurised and served through a hand pump. For me this still remains a wonderful halfway house between keg and cask.ReplyDelete
I wonder though if Red Barrel was utterly delicious would it matter if it came out of the udders of a cow (but on the other hand Red Barrel from what I have been told by the veterans of the great beer wars was utterly rubbish and tasted as if it had come from the udders of a cow)
Unfiltered keg beer is a pretty rare thing in the UK - at Zerodegrees Blackheath we would send out kegs to a few local satellite bars owned by the same company. & in the pub itself in my day all of the beers were also unfilteres & indeed with no extraneous gas coming in contact with the beer, as we used bag-in-tank vessels, using compressed air. I think Meantime are now using them at their new Old Brewery -ReplyDelete
(NB I think Zerodegs' Pilsner may now be filtered, however)
I was told that in the past at least, Hoegaarden on tap was unfiltered and in effect 'real beer in keg' - a pub I know had some kind of affidavit from Interbrew confirming this.
I think Dark Star may have kegged some unfiltered beers & it may have been a test, but I'm sure I heard about Hobson's putting some beer into nifty disposable plastic kegs (which I'm guessing are similar to the ones Justin is using?)
As to the haze 'problem'- I don't mind a bit of protein haze, as to me it's tasteless, but I've got a real thing against beers that are cloudy with yeast (apart from Belgie & German wheats) - I just find the yeast gives a harshly bitter taste, which totally overwhelms the subtler good tastes of malt, hops, etc. But perhaps if someone allowed the worst of the yeast to settle out to the bottom of the cask, & possibly used a slightly shorter keg spear, which would then hopefully pour a bit clearer, leaving the yeast in the bottom of the keg.
Porterhouse stouts are also unfiltered.ReplyDelete
From talking to one of the Danish brewers, the bag-in-tank KeyKeg type things are indeed nifty, but also hideously expensive.
Come on MicMac, don't forget about us at Lovibonds, we do 100% unfiltered keg beer, as well as 100% unfiltered bottled beer.ReplyDelete
Red Barrel would have tasted shit out of cask as well. This whole area is one of the biggest uneducated debates ever...don't get me started...
MicMac — you’re right about the bag in tanks at meantime, have seen them, Hooky was pretty pleased with them, while your comment about Hoegarden reminds me of the way Addlestones was sold as a ‘real cider’.ReplyDelete
Beer Nut —Moor is a oretty small brewery, Justin told me the kegs were recyclable, so he was happy to send them around the world
Jeff meet Justin, Justin meet Jeff, how about a collaboration keg beer ;-)
I was joking about Red Barrel, even if one was in nappies when it was around it has gone down as appalling in the dna of every beer lover in the same way as generations of Central European parents in the middle ages might have warned their kids about the Mongol hordes.
Cooper's Sparkling Ale on draught is also, I believe, an unfiltered "live" pressurised beer.ReplyDelete
would that we could see it over here in the UK in keg. I’ve never seen it but who knows.
@Jeff Rosenmmeier - apologies Jeff! It's been a long brewday! I was typing away thinking "I know there's someone I'm missing out here!" My bad.ReplyDelete
@Beer Nut - the keykegs disposable kegs are different to the bag-in-tanks that I mentioned - http://duotank.nl/en These are normally 1000litre horizontal tanks, lined with a disposable plastic bag & normally using a compressor to force the beer to the bar (the compressed air doesn't come into contact with the beer).
Re Porterhouse's dark beers, yes I'd forgotten that, but remember it from a series of daft conversations after it appeared on the foreign beer bar at GBBF a while back.
The idea is that you transfer the beer with the correct amount of CO2 in solution, then that remains in the beer, meaning you can have more or less C02 to suit the beer (more in lager & weiss, etc)
Zerodegs Blackheath has these tanks, I think they're really nifty.
@ ATJ - If memory serves from that Lager Seminar you organised, I think another occasional unfiltered UK keg beer is Taddington/Moravka Lager?
MicMac — not sure about Morvaka, had very brief email conversation with chap there for my forthcoming All About Beer feature on UK craft brewers; Cotswold filter and I suspect West do. At meantime, Hooky has those larger horizontal tanks with a disposable platic bag, as the air doesn’t come into contact with the beer — surely real ale by any other name if yeast left in (kellerbier effect).ReplyDelete
Keykegs are different in size, but the principle is exactly the same.ReplyDelete
@The Beer Nut - Ah OK, I didn't know that, I think I was getting KeyKegs (cardboard outer, plastic liner) mixed up with a different all-plastic disposable keg (i.e. using extraneous CO2, not air) but I can now find nothing about them on the web!ReplyDelete
These from Cypherco are different again -
(multi-use plastic kegs)
@ATJ Moravka Lager is apparently occasionally served unfiltered, cloudy & keg - 'Krasnovice'
The Duotank style vessels work perfectly well with filtered or unfiltered beer - so I'm not sure if Meantime's Old Brewery filter their beers or not.
MicMac — going back to my visit I don’t think Alastair filters his beers at the Old Brewery, but it’s a question I will ask, problem with being a journalist is one (ie me) can be a bit broad brush.ReplyDelete
It's hilarious that people here are slowly rehabilitating gas pressure and bright beer while the Americans are starting to play with cask conditioning.ReplyDelete
Oddly enough, I have the impression that pouring technique makes more of a difference with CO2 dispense than it does with real ale.
BTW West generally filter their pale lagers, but don't bother with the dark ones where you don't see the difference.
Barm there was a cover story in AAB about cask in the US recently and a similar thought shot across the firmament of my mind. At the end of the day what we want is good, delicious beer that shakes the apples out of the tree of complacency and gets us glad to be up in the morning (even on a Monday).ReplyDelete
@Barm & similarly hilarious is the IMO misguided practice of some US pubs/breweries seemingly serving cask beer as cloudy as possible, as if to prove its unfiltered nature.ReplyDelete
Generally UK brewers, pub landlords & drinkers see cloudy cask beer as a sign of there being a problem (which, as I say, if the cloudiness is yeast, then for me there is a problem - it's likely to taste harshly bitter i.e. 'yeast bitten').
It would be interesting to see everyones opinion when tasted blind. Unfortunately the British beer drinking public suffers due to misplaced preconceptions and sometimes very narrow minded views. There really aren't any authoritative knowledgeable beer writers so in the beer world everyone with an opinion is an authority. Which is great-if we all had open minds.ReplyDelete
Anonymous — good point, it would be good to know though whether you’re a brewer or publican or a member of the British beer drinking public.ReplyDelete