If the latest Government press conference telling us all we’re locked in our homes for the foreseeable has done anything, it’s made us all want to reach for a beer.
While there may still be a handful of commendable souls attempting to go ‘dry’ for January, the rest of us have decided that a decent drink is the only way to take the edge off the massive mess that is 2021 so far.
But with days of putting the world to rights among friends at the pub now a mere beautiful, but distant memory, getting a real beer fix ain’t quite as simple as it used to be.
Arise The Popularity Of Beer Dispensers
For many, the answer has been an attempt to bring the pub to their home.
Gadgets and gizmos aplenty have sprung up on the market to meet the increasing demand of drinkers longing for a beer fix now the Winchester has shut its doors.
Beer dispensers have become all the rage driven by demand from ‘home drinkers’ desperate to replicate the perfectly poured pint they long for whilst navigating the ever-changing Covid rules and restrictions.
But how good are they?
The answer, in short: not very.
Sorry folks, but as smart and stylish as a shiny new dispenser may look on your kitchen worktop, beer pumped out of a dispenser will never come close to that of freshly tapped beer. It will certainly make a great conversation piece, of that there is no doubt. But if you want a resounding thumbs up from your pals on the beer quality, it may not be the way forward.
Cask V Added Conditioning
Fresh beer is the best beer. It’s as simple as that.
Fresh beer is in its optimum state, immediately at the end of the conditioning cycle of the brewing process having undergone a degree of conditioning in a cask.
Brewers let cask ale do all the talking. We don’t interfere with it, we don’t filter it, we don’t pasteurise it and we certainly don’t pump CO2 into it like a “Soda Stream” to force carbonate it. It goes straight into the barrel where, still in its unfinished form, it remains live and kicking until it lands in your glass.
It is of extremely low carbonation levels, typically between 1 and 1.5 volumes of CO2 and dispensed through a hand pull. That’s in comparison to typical kegged ale, which contains 2–2.7 volumes of CO2 and is pushed out of the keg with CO2.
The net result of this much gentler level of carbonation produces a rounder mouthfeel and, since it is unfiltered, often produces a more complex flavour and aromatic profile. Furthermore, not chilling the beer to an almost fridge like temperature has been proven by Tefal-head scientists to create the very best in both aroma and flavour.
If properly casked, handled with care in transit and properly dispensed, the subtle difference between fresh cask beer and kegged – such as that you’ll be pumping out from a dispenser at home – can be profound.
Cask conditioning is to beer what the Methode Champenoise is to wine. Just as Champagne evolves in the bottle, cask ale matures and ripens in the barrel. The live yeast not only nibbles away at the sugars, turning them into alcohol and creating soft carbonation, it also smooths rough flavour edges and adds a greater depth of flavour.
Keg beers – served using cold conditioning, pressurised tanks, filtration and extraneous carbon dioxide techniques – just don’t cut it next to their casked counterparts. And while keg beers may well have shaken off some of their shameful reputation of the past, the use of carbon dioxide and nitrogen is still enough to quiver the livers of cask ale drinking die-hards.
The Craft Beer Revolution And Why It Matters
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – which defines real ale as beer made from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is to be served, and dispensed without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide – was formed in 1971 as big breweries bought out small to medium ‘craft’ brewers and pushed keg bitter and mass produced lager into pubs.
It has been valiantly championing cask ale in its most traditional, purest form ever since. Without their input, cask ale would probably be in a coffin. But their support – plus a pique in curiosity driven by the recent craft beer revolution – has cemented the cask ale’s standard as the gold standard of beer drinking. And even Covid isn’t going to stop drinkers getting their fix.
Without the addition of gases and ‘over conditioning’ techniques used to preserve the beers you’d dispense from home, our freshly tapped ales have a limited shelf life – think of fresh milk versus long life and which you’d prefer in your cuppa or on your cornflakes for example.
But we know there’s few finer things in life than a pint of freshly tapped ale which has been skilfully brewed and lovingly looked after – which is why we launched Beer Drive-Thru to bring you fresh beer directly to your door.
The pubs may be shut, but even Boris Johnson can’t stop you enjoying a perfectly poured pint from the comfort of your home.