It's been a good weekend for those that appreciate beer as god intended. The CAMRA faithful have re-affirmed their rejection of satan and all his works, and there was an entertainingly uncompromising piece in the programme of the excellent Wandsworth Common Beer Festival that I shall reproduce here:
Craft or Keg? Is it Real?
Having just returned from a beer tour of the West Coast of America, I can report on the flourishing ale revolution in California. Although they would, themselves, say that the beer revolution is more of a revival as the beer scene is merely returning to the volumes per-Prohibition. It's easy to forget the US beer industry was wiped out by Prohibition and never fully recovered. The so-called craft revolution of the last 10 years reflects a growing interest in "Craft" ales here in the UK. But what exactly is craft, is it real? The founders of CAMRA fought a hard battle from 1974 to eradicate keg and promote traditional cask conditioned beer in Britain. I feel strongly that having won the battle we are now beginning to lose the war. For CRAFT read KEG. The ingredients may be top notch and the process refined with superb state of the art brewing equipment and technique but essentially Craft Beers are carbonated, pasteurised and served under blanket pressure. Everything we have fought over the last 40 years to eradicate.
Make no mistake these so-called Craft Beers can be very tasty. But the problem often lies in the underlying "freshness" of the barrel on dispense. Cask conditioned ales notoriously have a very short shelf life. But these craft, or as I prefer to call them, keg beers, can last 3 months on a continuously sliding quality scale without ever actually turning to vinegar. You can tell a tired keg ale instantly. The slight haze due to the gradual absorption of the CO2 into the beer and worst of all, the metallic taste of stale beer. Keg beer makes good sense for brewers and good sense for retailers as the improved shelf life means less, or no waste. But be award, its not real ale, and never will be.