“I love cask me, flat brown beer is my nectar. You like fizzy cold beer and, quite frankly my unlearned friend, you are a prize cretin.”
“Sir, you eat shit for breakfast and drink warm piss for lunch. King Bjergsø of Copenhagen states clearly in his 2006 manifesto that all beer should be served at 5c to get the most out of its natural carbonation and 6,000 IBUs”
It won’t have escaped your attention that it is the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival this week. Certainly beery Twitter is alive with the #GBBF hashtag.
@MagicRockRich: Wonder if I could get a soda stream into gbbf
@HiggsBoson1: Has some tedious golden ale with a picture of a steam engine on the clip won 2012 @gbbf yet?
@thornbridgematt: If you’re headed for the @gbbf have a great time. Looks like there are some really great beers this year.
@jamesbwxm: Ok. Going to Craft.
I turned down a couple of opportunities to go due to a tight work schedule and a moderately uninspiring beer list. No Kernel, Magic Rock, Summer Wine, Lovibonds, Moor, Camden Town, Tiny Rebel and, of course, BrewDog.
Despite the foreign beer bars running draft keg lines, none of the UK brewers are allowed to dispense from keg due to CAMRA’s obsession with “Real Ale”. Never one to miss an opportunity, BrewDog noted that GBBF were excluding some of the best UK craft breweries as a result. Because we all know that craft beer only comes in keg and bottle. Well no, of course we don’t, nearly all those breweries produce as much cask beer as kegged, if not more.
For all the notable absences, there were plenty of positives. Brodies, Arbor, Bristol Beer Factory, Ilkley, Blue Monkey, Dark Star, Durham, Marble, Oakham, Otley, Ramsgate, Red Willow, Thornbridge and Windsor & Eaton all had at least one beer present. From the running Twitter commentaries, styles were pretty varied and there was plenty of high ABV doing the rounds. I was quite upset I didn’t go in the end.
It seems to me that BrewDog and CAMRA are two sides of a spiteful, unproductive beer coin. Both parties are as bad as each other, adamant that their truth is the one truth, creating friction amongst their followers at a time when the beer community needs to unite against corporate beery shiteness, falling numbers of pub goers and Draconian tax laws.
We all have a point of view, some are right and some are wrong. The right opinion is of course that good beer is good beer and shit beer is shit beer. All styles are equally valid and suggesting that warmer, less carbonated beer dispensed from cask is any better or worse than colder sparkling kegged or bottled beer is as ridiculous a notion as pitting red wine against Champagne. Certain styles are better suited to a certain form of dispense, but that is not an exclusivity argument.
I suspect this is the last year we will see GBBF with no UK beer on keg (for which BrewDog will no doubt take the credit). Whether they’ll complete a full u-turn and showcase BrewDog beers seems unlikely though. The thing that concerns me most is that the chance of BrewDog acknowledging cask seems a fair bit lower (as an entity I mean, I’ve no doubt many of their employees enjoy cask as much as the rest of us). As the self appointed spearhead of the UK craft movement I worry what influence they are likely to have on the young impressionable 20 something beer drinkers, the people with no kids and disposable income that are tasked with regenerating our dwindline pub industry.
Personally, I want to live in a world of Craft Beer Companies and Euston Taps. Pubs with fridges full to the brim of interesting bottles and the bar stacked with a myriad of keg lines and cask pumps. I want all the good beer, not just some of it.
For more self-righteous ramblings please follow me @bluegiantbeer