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Cask ale and lager: friends or foes?

It’s Cask Ale Week next week – and Roger Protz and I will be celebrating by singing the praises of lager. No, it’s not a premature April Fool. I wrote in January that drinking unfiltered, unpasteurized Budvar straight from the conditioning tanks in Ceske Budejovice was one of the most amazing taste experiences of my beery life so far. It was exquisite, a completely different drink, and it underlined to everyone present that great lager is every bit as superb as great ale. Well, next week I get to drink it again, without having to go to the Czech Republic – and you can try it too. On Tuesday night, 30th March, The White Horse at Parson’s Green will be cracking open some of the unpasteurized, unfiltered nectar flown straight in from the brewery, and Protzy and I will be singing its praises and talking more generally about the difference – and similarity – between ale and lager. I’ll be focusing on what I learned at the fascinating Guild of Beer Writers lager seminar at Thornbridge about 18 months ago, questioning our conventional understanding of how you define lager, discussing examples of beers on the borderline. Then, the Protzatolah will share some of his research on the history of lager brewing, challenging conventional wisdom that lager is inherently somehow inferior in quality to ale, and showing that lager brewing actually goes back much further than most of us think. Admission is free but places are limited, so if you’re keen, it’s best to book a place with the White Horse now. Things kick off at 7.30ish. See you there!



The Beer Nut

"Protzatolah" conjures an image of him walking to the podium in a silk dressing gown, accompanied by his trainer. What's his entrance song?


I would love to attend that tasting. Sounds fantastic.
When I was beginning my swtich from euro-pop beer to real beer, I tasted a craft lager from Cains brwery. It was fantastic. I craved its multiple layers of flavour that I thought only a great ale could deliver. Unfortunately there is nowhere near me that can supply it. However…
Recently I went to a pub here in the Chilterns called the Harte and Magpies. They server Cotswold lager. Their premium lager is everything as good as Cains. I have a new craving. 🙂

Have a great time Pete!

Cooking Lager

Video blog it, Pete, so those that can't be arsed can see what the fuss is about. Try and get Protzy to say "Now that's a lovely pint of lovely lout"


Be sure to go into detail about modified and undermodified malts and the various types of decoction mashes. Also, discuss the unique Moravian barley(Hordeum vulgaris)
and what it adds to the flavor profile. Carry on about soft water and the Saaz hop. When you really want to wow 'em, discuss S. carlsbergensis and how it changed the brewing world.

You could on the other hand just drink loads of it and not compete with Protz as the worlds biggest beer authority. I'd have you both in that regard.

Pete Brown

Monty, I would do as you suggest, except if I did I'd sound like a smug, superior, self-satisfied arse and I'd alienate my audience with a bunch of stuff they couldn't care less about, solely to stoke up my fragile ego. So I don't think I will. Thanks for the suggestions though!


For neophytes like me, I was taught that lagers are bottom-fermented, whereas ales are top-fermented. Is this misleading/incomplete/erroneous? Are there authorities on defining beers, or, like with most intellectual pursuits, is it all down to the power of your argument?

Great blog by the way, been reading it for ages. It inspired me to start my own beer blog based around the BC, Canada brewing scene, which I will shamelessly plug now if oyu don't mind:



That Budvar from the lagering tanks WAS real ale according to CAMRA's definition: brewed from traditional ingredients, naturally carbonated in the vessel from which it is served, and dispensed without extraneous CO2. Real ale and proper traditional lager have more in common than either have with John Smiths or Carlsberg.


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