keg vs cask vs bottle

There seems to be a nice little discussion rumbling around the web – somewhat instigated by the advent of Jaipur being kegged.

The whole thing is simply a bit of a dance about a thorny subject.

Cask has it’s place.  Kegs have their place.  Bottles, yes they have their place. It’s all about good beer in, good beer out. There is a lot of poor cask beer, poorly handled, poorly conditioned, as much poorly bottled beers. Keg offers brewers opportunity to present a beer, in “brewery condition” – as the brewer intended. Not, reliant on bad maintenance anywhere down the line, until it reaches the customers glass. Yes, well handled cask ale is a marvellous thing, but another point is that not all beers are born for cask, we can but try, but it’s not often practical to put very big, very hoppy, or esoteric flavoured ales into a cask, and hope that the cask of beer will sell in less than three days. Not to mention the chilling and sometimes a slightly higher carbonation does help a beer “pop”.

Would you limit your chances of having a glass of full flavoured, aromatic, well brewed, clean and exciting beer, for the nature of it’s vessel. Can you not learn to trust brewers, when we say that, actually “kegs aren’t as bad as you think they are…”

Of course, poorly handled keg beers are bad too, but they allow the brewer to present far greater diversity of flavour, and texture than what a cask will ever be able to do.  But, fresh, local, really good cask ale – to what I can find with ease around these parts, from Gadds, Goachers, Westerham – really are markers of what UK breweries do well.

With out bridging or breaking this attitude to Keg, in the UK, within the artisan and craft beer consumer groups, we are stifling innovation, potential success and niches for fellow brewing companies to fully exploit for the ongoing success of their businesses…

Keg, cask, or bottle, it’s not important… it’s what we, as brewers, put in the vessel, that you need be most concerned about…

I think the leads to the bigger issue is the demise of trust of a brewer. Tweets and Blogs from Fergus of Adnams highlighted the advent of “construct beer” rather than what brewers, in time honored fashion, have brewed through means born of millennia of practice, learning and then technological development – straight up brewing!       Of course, brewers back in the 70’s, brewing for a massive tied estates  – really their only profit making opportunities were to strip costs out of the beer, as such beer became what we came to despise – starting the rot, that CAMRA brought to the fore and railed against.  Of course, there is the elephant in the room, the traditionalist that we as Brits cherish, that of CASK, and the ensuing CAMRA connections.      We have been educated to think that casks are the best method of packaging – may I suggest that its more simply put – horses for courses.    Trust your brewer to bring you good beer.

Good beer in, well served, you’ll get a good beer to your lips.     Chuck cans into the mix, and sit back and enjoy…

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6 thoughts on “keg vs cask vs bottle

    • yeah, I did, lightly at the end. I love the efforts of the 21st Amendment, they have really been a corner stone of the canned craft beer movement – I wish there was a decent lager in a can, let alone a nice pale ale, in the UK.

  1. People should trust brewers but brewers are seldom the only voice when the decision to put a beer into a particular package is made. Marketing and Finance function’s voices are just as strong if not more. Trust brewers by all means but brewers must earn that trust.

    If more people judged beer on taste than following fashion the world would be a better place. And fashion is not limited to the package or the marketing it is simply following the crowd.

  2. “Trust your brewer to bring you good beer”? – as Stuart suggests, perhaps brewers (& finance, marketing, etc) are not always entirely trustworthy :~) I’m not by any stretch saying that all micro-brewed or all cask beers are best, but my point is that we should trust our own palates first – if it comes from a can, cask, keg, bottle, armpit, hole-in-the-ground, etc I don’t care, as long as it tastes good. If it comes from a big brewery, or a tiny one, or heaven-forbid a contract- or cuckoo-brew, if it tastes good, then that’s the one for me.

    In general, I prefer my beers un-messed about with – good ingredients, light or no filtration, natural carbonation, etc – it so happens that the most available type of draught beer that ticks these boxes for me in the UK is cask, so that’s what I tend to go for, but if more good beer comes in keg, can or bottle, then I’m happy to enjoy it too.

    • It’s the qualification, perhaps of the statement what tastes good, no?

      Where we “as brewers” can, and do, present our beer to consumer, with presupposed authority (grandfathered, earned or qualified), in something of a contract, that our beer is fit for purpose, and if just so happens to go beyond that and is pretty damn good, it’s a bonus – should we not be something akin to “honor bound” to, when presenting beer, do so under an “oath”?

      That might seem extreme, even I would level that at my own comment, but with out it perhaps, who are we to say that the beer in front of you, between you and the consumer is “good”, or are we automatically qualified to say so, just because we can make a malt and hop based fermented beverage and call ourselves brewers. I for one am no where near as qualified to examine beer as, say stuart above. It’s almost like just because we can, doesn’t necessarily mean we should?

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