Tag: cask ale

| Beer, Cask ale, Real Ale

The Session: Keg versus Cask

I’ve been asked to take part in the session (a regular event where someone suggests a topic and bloggers the whole world over all write about it) a few times before now.  The fact that I have never taken part has nothing to do with me being Above That Sort Of Thing and everything to do with me simply not having time, or not having anything particularly interesting to say on the chosen topic on the day in question.

I’m taking part this month for two reasons: one, I was specifically asked to do so by Reluctant Scooper this month’s host and one of the most underrated bloggers – nay, writers in any medium – on Planet Beer.  Second, because the topic Reluctant – or Simon as his mates call him – has chosen is one I’ve been meaning to blog for some time.

The topic is beer dispense: does it matter?  And I want to focus on the debate between cask and keg.  Because I think I’ve got it worked out now.

It’s been a bit of an argument, and I waded in deep recently by slagging off people who think that good beer always has to be cask conditioned or, at a push, bottle conditioned.  One of the more sensible, but still devout, CAMRA members who commented on that post suggested that these days, one has to accept that there are some quality kegged beers around, but that any beer that’s good on keg would de facto be better if it was on cask.

I disagree, and here’s why.

I’m not a brewer.  I welcome corrections, rebuttals or even confirmation of my theory.  And this is NOT one of my anti-CAMRA posts – I’m not attacking anyone else’s beliefs or opinions, merely stating my own.

The idea came to me when I was in the Old Toad in Rochester, New York, a couple of months ago.  Local brewers Custom Brewcrafters had created an Imperial IPA for the pub’s twentieth anniversary called, appropriately enough, OT20.  It was 9% ABV and full of the currently ubiquitous Citra hop.  Appropriately for one of the US’s first cask ale pubs, it was available on cask as well as keg, so I had a half of each to compare.

The big differences were, unsurprisingly the temperature and the level of carbonation. The hop aroma was much more prevalent in the keg – not surprising as carbonation helps release such aromas from beer. I was straining to get much from the cask. And then in the mouth, the keg version felt lighter. Obviously more refreshing, but also cleaner and more delicate. By comparison, the cask version felt thick, oily, almost greasy.  The flavours were more complex and intense, but muddy somehow, bordering on unpleasant.

This is a beer style that was invented (or rather, adapted in its modern guise) for keg, and it did not suit cask at all. It’s an American beer style. It was never meant for English-style cask.

And that made me realise, conversely, why cask ale is so special.  It suits traditional British ale which, for the last hundred years or so, has mainly been at very low ABV, and very balanced.  What I’d experienced with a double IPA was a concentration of hop flavour and an intensity of character that had become unpleasantly cloying.  Take a 3.8% session ale that’s relatively low in intensity, and filtration and carbonation would make it very bland indeed.  But that same concentration of flavour that cask bestows gives it a surprisingly interesting depth and layers of flavour, subtlety and character.  That’s what makes session real ales so special and satisfying.

It also explains why some people who only drink session real ales cannot imagine any beer being as good if it were filtered and carbonated.

And it explains why extreme beer hopheads can often find cask a little unfulfilling.

So – if carbonation strips out hoppy depth and turns it into aroma, and cask turns moderate beer in on itself to give it complexity, the best method of dispense becomes a function of recipe and ABV.  Neither is intrinsically better than the other.

I was then able to admit to myself that, much as I adore Thornbridge Jaipur in any form, I’ve always seceretly harboured a preference for it in bottle over cask.  And why Elderfower-flavoured Badger Golden Champion is delightful in bottle but a dud on cask.  And why some people prefer Fuller’s London Porter on keg.

So if I’m not talking out of my arse, where’s the dividing line?

Thornbridge’s Kipling is 5.2%, and has recently been trialled on keg.  I tried it in the Euston Tap and was slightly let down.  I immediately had a hankering for the juicy body of the cask version.  It’s a hoppy beer, sure, but not extreme.  And then, when I tried the side-by-side experiment in the Jolly Butchers with Camden Pale Ale, I much preferred the keg.  The carbonation was gentle – you’d have to be a Luddite twat to describe it as ‘fizzy’ – and the citrus hop flavour was very much to the fore, clean and incisive.  The cask, again, seemed oleaginous and out of balance.  So it’s somewhere around 5%, and somewhere around reasonably full-bodied, and something to do with personal taste.

Doubtless some deniers will say I was on each occasion drinking cask that wasn’t in top condition, but you’re wrong, it was very good – different beers simply suit different methods of dispense.

So now can we all abandon irrelevant dogma, hold hands and live happily ever after in a sunny, harmonious beer world where everyone celebrates the bounteous diversity on offer?

No, thought not…

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Molson Coors buys Sharps!

Transfer window madness: Burton-on-Trent buys Cornwall

Yes, it’s the same story that will be appearing on about eight or nine UK beer blogs at this very moment:

Burton-based Molson Coors, brewers of Carling and Grolsch, have just announced the purchase of Cornwall’s Sharp’s Brewery, home of the fast-rising Doom Bar and a range of wonderfully eclectic, sometimes even visionary, but difficult to get hold of beers from top brewer Stuart Howe.

There’s not too much info on the value of the deal, what it means for breweries and brands etc.  The press release quote from Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter is:

The Doom Bar brand is modern and progressive.  It has a loyal following and excellent reputation amongst consumers and customers alike and has the potential to become a truly extraordinary brand. We have a wealth of experience with this type of venture and an excellent track record of building brands across all markets. We respect and want to preserve the unique culture of Sharp’s Brewery and the special appeal of their brands to beer drinkers.”

Stuart Howe adds:

“We are delighted to be joining the Molson Coors team, all of whom are passionate about Sharp’s Brewery and committed to the Doom Bar brand. We are incredibly proud to be voted the best regional cask beer by our customers, with the support of Molson Coors we’re looking forward to being recognised as the best cask beer in the country.”

So what does it all mean? Why has it happened? Here are some initial, ill-informed thoughts and speculations.

Firstly, before we get into the detailed ramifications, this represents a major change in direction for the UK cask ale market.  In four years of writing the Cask Report, we’ve been saying that the big national brewers have abandoned cask ale and left it to the regionals and micros.  Molson Coors have been talking a good cask ale game for a while now without doing much to deliver against it until recently.  This marks the creation, or reinvention, of a national brewer with a big commitment to cask ale.

Of course there are good and bad sides to that.  Many will ask why MC can’t just leave cask ale to people who care about it.

But this is actually a great fit.  To beer aficionados, Doom Bar is an acceptable but very ordinary beer.  And yet it is massively popular with mainstream drinkers.  It looks contemporary on the bar and recruits new people to the ale market.  It’s taken on by many pubs who are looking to trial cask for the first time.  Anyone who met the previous owners will have got the impression that they were aggressively building the brand, attempting to turn it into a national cask ale brand as quickly as possible.  It’s only been going since 1994 and the original recipe was from a kit, so it’s not as if there is any heritage here that’s about to be trashed by a big corporate.  There’s no better brand for MC to acquire – mainstream, modern, little specialness to lose.  With glorious hindsight, this is just the logical next step for Doom Bar’s evolution.

So how does it fit with the Worthington brand, also given a reboot by Molson Coors with the building of the new William Worthington Brewery (which I wrote about in this week’s Publican magazine)?  Doom Bar is at the moment stronger in the south, while Worthington’s is bigger in the Midlands.  Mark Hunter told me that draught White Shield and the long-awaited Red Shield will be focusing on a radius around Burton.  My prediction is that MC will aggressively build Doom Bar as a national cask ale brand.  My hope is that they’ll then nurture White Shield/Red Shield as something a bit more special.  If that’s what happens to Doom Bar it’ll be good for cask ale overall, making the gateway to the category that bit bigger for the kind of drinker who doesn’t have the confidence to seek out flavourful beers without the reassurance of big brands. (Yes, I know I just described Doom Bar as a flavourful beer, spare me the wisecracks – I’m talking relatively).

And what of Stuart Howe and the rest of what he does at Sharp’s?

Those of us who have met Stuart know he finds brewing Doom Bar a bit of a chore – it’s growing massively, it’s a routine to brew – and he has a huge imagination. The line from MC is that Stuart “Stays doing what he’s doing but supported by more investment in the brewery and greater distribution capability.” I’d like to think this means he’ll be staying on in the new company, and will be given freedom to experiment, getting some of his Belgian-influenced ales out into the market properly. My mouth also waters at the prospect of collaborations between him and Worthington brewery legend Steve Wellington.

But whether or not this will actually this will happen within the well-meaning but slower, more corporate, conservative set-up of Molson Coors, I’m more doubtful about.  Stuart won’t hang around if he’s just brewing Doom Bar on a bigger kit, and if he does eventually jump ship, you can bet your life it will be to start something new with a greater focus on innovative beers.  So the craft beer drinker still wins out.

I’d say the only people who could/should be pissed off or alarmed by this are the regional brewers like Greene King, Marston’s and Wells & Young’s, who now face a serious new contender.  It’s going to be interesting to see how they react.

Meanwhile, Howe’s blog is going to make even more compelling reading than normal!

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January Video Blog – It’s Festival Time!

Went to the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester last week, and had a rather marvellous time.

The result is a video with me and Peter Amor – he gets to talk to people and I get to drink a lot of beer.  I almost manage to hold it together to the end…

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Real Ale – Preference or Dogma?

“Are the beers dispensed by gravity or gas?”

When I previewed the opening of the Euston Tap, this was the first question I received on both my blog and Twitfeed.  It’s because the real ale taps come straight out of the wall rather than being from hand pumps on the bar.

And when I replied that they were served with gas, there was a supplemental question: “Does that mean air pressure or do they also use CO2?”

These questions are of no interest to the vast majority of craft beer drinkers.  But they are of fundamental importance to the Campaign for Real Ale.  And because CAMRA is the biggest and most influential consumer body in beer in the UK, that makes them important.

While I’m a champion of cask ale, I obviously love other beers as well – as I think do most drinkers.  But this is an issue that won’t go away, and the Tap has thrown it, for me, into sharp relief.

CAMRA as a body fight for real ale.  When it suits them they fight for other stuff as well, but let’s leave that to one side for now.  When it comes to British brewed craft beer, by their constitution they have to champion ‘real’ or cask conditioned ale.  Given that, it’s quite understandable that they need to have a pretty specific technical definition of what real ale is.  That means there are bound to be some beers that are pretty close to that definition, but fall outside it.

I can accept that.  What’s more bizarre is what happens to beers that do not qualify as real ale, and to the pubs that serve them.  If they are not real ale – even by a whisker – CAMRA cannot support them.  Pubs that start using cask breathers are promptly dropped from the Good Beer Guide.

I understand how they get here.  But I still think it’s bizarre.

I don’t know whether the beers in the Euston Tap are served with CO2 (i.e. cask breathers) or not.  But what if they were?

Let’s take Thornbridge Bracia.  Normally a bottled beer, it’s won numerous awards around the globe.  It’s breathtaking in its complexity, subtlety, structure and power.  Now it’s on cask at the Euston tap, and nowhere else.

Now, I know most CAMRA members join because they love great beer and by and large that’s what CAMRA’s about.  But let’s focus on the hardliners, the people who propose motions at AGMs, who campaign most actively, who write stuff like this on Cambridge CAMRA’s official website:

“The beer must remain untainted and utterly genuine. CAMRA have fought off all sorts of threats, some blatant, others more subtle and the image remains intact. The dishonest cask breather must not be allowed to corrupt CAMRA’s standards.”

If you agree with this, I would genuinely like to hear from you…

Let’s say I get you into the Euston Tap and place a pint of Bracia in front of you.  Would you demand to know about gas and cask breathers before you deigned to drink it?  If I told you it was served without cask breathers, and you drank it and enjoyed it, would you then change your mind about it if I said, “Actually I lied, it is served with cask breathers”?

What would you do if I said “Why not taste it and decide if it has a cask breather or not?” Given that the main argument against cask breathers is that they supposedly affect the taste (something every brewer I’ve spoken to denies), surely you’ll be able to tell whether it has a cask breather or not?  If you can’t, then what exactly is the problem?

Because this is the nub of the debate: the Campaign for Real Ale was founded from a genuine belief that cask ale tastes better than other beers.  Whether you agree with that or not, it’s an argument about the quality and delivery of the beer.  But it’s about your senses.  It’s about the beer.  If I give you a beer that doesn’t fit with your definition of cask, but is generally regarded as a flavourful, quality beer, you could:

  • Drink it and say, “Amazing – it’s not about cask or keg or cask breathers – it’s just about the taste of the beer.”
  • Drink it, and perhaps say something like, “Wow, I still prefer cask beers generally, but I’ll admit there are some pretty damn good beers that are not cask conditioned.”
  • Say, “If it’s not cask beer I refuse to drink it.  It must be rubbish.”

Most people I know would go with the first option.  I think the vast majority of CAMRA members would go for the second one.  But I have met people who do the third.

I once told the chairman of Edinburgh CAMRA I’d really enjoyed a pint of Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted in my hotel while visiting the city.  Because it was delivered to me at a table by a waiter, I had no idea whether it was cask or keg.  This man, who surely considers himself an expert on beer, was adamant that if it had been cask I must have enjoyed it, but if it was keg I couldn’t have.  He was telling me to ignore the evidence of my senses and instead focus on a technical aspect of beer dispense to decide whether my beer tasted nice or not.

Surely it’s meant to be about the taste of the beer.  Why else are we all here?  If you need to ask technical questions about methods of dispense before deciding if you like a beer or not, you are making your decisions based on dogma.  You are making a political decision rather than taste driven decision.  And I believe that means you’ve lost sight of what the whole Campaign for Real Ale was supposed to be about.

Some CAMRA people argue that things like cask breathers, and FastCask from Marston’s, are “the thin end of the wedge” – that if we accept this, we’ll see a gradual erosion of real ale until it doesn’t exist any more and, by stealth, CAMRA will have been defeated.

I think that’s a pretty paranoid argument.  And if I were being contentious, I’d also say “But if the quality of the beer doesn’t change, what’s the problem?”

CAMRA was established because beer most beer was shit.  A lot of beer still is.  But dogma, definition and politics mean that the most hardline CAMRA members often save their hostility for really good beers that simply don’t meet an over-specific technical definition.

If you’re one of these people, I know ranting and telling you you’re stupid isn’t going to change anything. But I believe craft beer bars like the Euston Tap demonstrate that the definition of quality craft beer has changed an awful lot since 1971.  I don’t think your hardline attitude does anything to help beer drinkers, CAMRA’s image and credibility, or even cask ale itself.

I’ve tried to outline the argument in reasonable terms, understand your position and specify why I think it’s wrong.  I’d be hugely grateful if you wanted to respond in kind.

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The Two Peters venture into the world of video blogging

Peter Amor is a very nice man.  25 years ago he set up the Wye Valley Brewery, which brews some very nice beers indeed.  Earler this year, once the silver jubilee celebrations had died down, he decided he wanted to give something back to the industry he´d built his livelihood on.  He wanted to do something to help celebrate British beer.

Ian Hudson, a former brewery employee, had by this time set up a film production conmpany.  So Ian and Peter started talking, then contacted me with a view to making some kind of film that sang the praises of British beer.

After kicking a few ideas around, we decided to start off by making a series of video blogs.  Once a month, we will be filming in a particular region of the UK, to produce monthly pairs of blogs.  I believe (though I may be wrong) that these represent a bit of a depatrture for V-Blogging in that they´re made with a full film crew and hopefully therefore have a veneer of professionalism to them. 

They´re not necessarily aimed at a beer geek audience but at a more general public, and we´re exploring ways to give them a wider reach in an age where TV channels won´t commission many serious content about beer.  So if you´re a fellow beer blogger and you´re thinking ´this is rally basic stuff´ – fine, but it´s not basic to most people.  The featured beers will be limited to cask ales, because that´s what Peter´s passionate about and he´s paying the bills.  But in today´s brewing scene, limiting it to cask is hardly a hardship.     

My bit is easy.  I have to select a few beers from that region, drink them, and talk about them on camera.  We decided to do the first one from Nottingham, home of the 2010 Champion Beer of Britain, Harvest Pale.  Here are the results.  Apart from convincing me of the urgent need for a diet, I´m quite pleased. 

Pete Brown’s British Beer Blog from Ian Hudson Films on Vimeo.

Mr Amor has a harder task.  He has to explain the history and production of beer, the ingredients and the process. Here´s his first one.

Peter Amor’s British Brewing Blog from Ian Hudson Films on Vimeo.

We´re quite pleased with the results for a first go.  Next month we´re in Wales.  If you think we should come and see you, let me know!

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The Cask Report

Have spent most of the day in a radio studio doing syndicated interviews about the Cask Report, which we’re launching today.  This means the Report, which I was hoping to put up here as an exclusive here earlier today, has already been picked up by several bloggers which, along with some favourable national media coverage, is great stuff.
Regular readers of this blog will know I’m hardly a cask ale purist.  I regularly criticize people who are.  But cask ale is the most misunderstood of beers.  And it was cask ale brewers who got together and decided we needed an industry report on their part of the beer market.  I’m proud to write the report each year, and to be a spokesperson for cask ale when the report comes out. 
This year’s report contains great news for cask ale brewers and pubs that sell it.  In fact, it’s the best news we’ve had in the four years I’ve been doing the report: 
  • 5% value growth versus 2% value decline for beer overall.
  • Volume steady versus 4% volume decline for beer overall – the first time since 1994 that cask volume hasn’t fallen.
  • 120,000 new drinkers taking total cask drinkers to 8.6 million
  • 4% increase in distribution, with 3000 new pubs stocking cask
  • Average age of the cask drinker is getting younger – 17% increase in 18-24 year-old drinkers.

This in an amazing performance given the general state of pubs and the collapse of volume in the beer market as a whole.
But despite the fact that many people simplify this good news into “cask is growing”, actually it’s not.  Cask’s fantastic performance is great news for drinkers, but good as it is, it’s still only static in volume terms.  That’s because most cask ale drinkers only drink it infrequently, and average throughput of cask ale (in line with beer generally) is down 5 per cent.  
I have a tiny worry that in spreading the good news about cask, we might make drinkers, brewers and pubs complacent, that all you need to do is stick a few handpulls on the bar and everything will be sorted.  
It doesn’t work like that.
In the beer world, we spend time with other like-minded people.  The brewers and publicans I speak to are all doing really well, but that’s because they work hard developing beers, keeping them in great condition, and telling people how good they are.  It doesn’t happen automatically.  46% of the UK population have still never tried cask ale.  Only 18% of drinkers claim to drink it on a regular basis.  People still don’t know that much about it.  
It’s important that anyone who loves cask ale who reads the report (downloadable here in full) reads the warnings as well as the fantastic news on cask’s resurgence.
Look, I just do as I’m told.

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You wait ages for locally based beer phenomena and then two come along at once

I’m starting to think there might be something in this beer lark.

Just a week after the Jolly Butchers reinvents itself as one of London’s top five beer pubs, The Alma on Newington Green is having a bank holiday weekend real ale festival.

The Alma is a pretty pub in a great location, on the border between N1 and N16.  Bobby Gillespie out of Primal Scream lives just around the corner, and he blew his entire wad of Indie Rock credibility a few years ago when he complained to the council about the noise from the pub.

It’s a gastropub – one of the best in the area – really nice food, freshly prepared, nice wine list, lovely staff, great atmosphere.  But up to now the beer selection has been nothing to write home about.

This weekend landlady Kirsty Valentine changes all that with a festival celebrating the extraordinary renaissance of London brewing in recent years.  There’s a full list of about twelve ales, all from Sambrooks, Brodie’s, Twickenham and Redemption, none of which existed six years ago (Twickenham is the oldest, having opened in September 2004).

And the nice thing about the mix, given that they’re drawn from four local breweries, is that there’s a really interesting array of beer styles in there – a few golden ales, a few session beers, and some stronger, darker stuff.

Some of the brewers will be turning up at various points throughout the weekend, and I’m going down there tomorrow (Saturday) hopefully to meet the nice man from Tottenham’s Redemption Brewery.

It’s three quid a pint (10% off for CAMRA members, not that they deserve it – sorry, Tandy etc – I’m grouchy about appalling behaviour by some stereotypes who were at the National Brewery Centre launch last night) and there’s a live band on Sunday.  It kicks off Saturday at noon and runs until chucking out time on Bank Holiday Monday.

See you there!

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Cask Ale? There’s an App for that.

Today sees a big drumroll for Cask Ale Week, which officially launches on Monday.

Two exciting things this morning:
Firstly, The Independent, the official media partner of Cask Ale Week, has published a cask ale supplement. I’ve written the intro and a piece on the history of beer, and there are also pieces by Protzy on the rise of microbreweries, Tim Hampson and Tom Stainer at the Kelham Island Tavern, none other than Al Murray rhapsodising about cask ale and British tradition, and Neil Morrissey on his life in beer. Follow the links by all means, but please do try and buy the paper as well – they need all the sales they can get!
Secondly, Cask Marque and Cyclops today launch Caskfinder, an iPhone app. Now I’ll be honest: when you see Cask Marque’s somewhat dated, cramped website, I didn’t have the highest of hopes for this. But having just downloaded it I’m absolutely blown away by it. I can see it’s going to be indispensable.
First, there’s an encyclopedia of every beer rated using the Cyclops tasting notes – currently just over 1000 – searchable by beer name or brewer, with tasting notes and the opportunity for you to record your own rating of it.
Second, there’s a directory of every one of Cask Marque’s 6000-odd pubs. Let your iPhone know where you are and it flags up the nearest pubs to you – you can also download this onto your car Satnav. Googlemaps gives you the address of the pub, a link to their website if they’ve got one, and details of any beers on tap that have been tested by Cask Marque’s assessors.
Then there’s a directory of brewers – don’t know how many bit I’d guess a couple of hundred. You can see all their beers, back search from here to find the pubs that serve them, link to the brewers’ websites, and find the brewery in a map.
There’s a directory of upcoming beer festivals with full details, locations, maps etc, a featured beer of a week, and and, er, an RSS feed to this blog! Looks like I’d better tone down the profanities from now on.
And it’s absolutely free.
I know there are some people who are sneery about Cask Marque, and critical of Cyclops. Some breweries claim their own quality standards are higher, and people don’t like the format of the Cyclops tasting notes. But in each case, while they may not be perfect, they are rapidly becoming national standards. This app shows the confidence and vision that cask ale as a beer style now has. For pubs and breweries that have not yet signed up, or feel they don’t need it, I’d say it’s worth signing up just be be on this app. The more pubs and beers it includes, the more indispensable it will be.

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EXCLUSIVE: Marston’s redefines Cask Ale

Full Disclosure: I was paid a consultancy fee by Marston’s to help them look at how to talk about this. That was three months ago and I haven’t been privy to developments since. Despite my previous involvement I have not been paid to write this post – I’m writing it because I believe in the product. But I’m flagging it because I do have an on/off strategic relationship with Marston’s and you should know that before reading this piece.

Marston’s are today announcing the launch of a new initiative called Fast Cask, which the brewer believes will revolutionise the availability and quality of cask ale.

Without going into too much technical detail, Fast Cask is still cask ale because it has live yeast working in the barrel, conditioning the beer. But that yeast has been put through an innovative process that makes it form beads which do not dissolve into the beer. These beads act like sponges, drawing beer through them to create the secondary fermentation.

What this means is that Fast Cask ale casks can stand a lot rougher treatment than a standard ale cask. They don’t need time to settle, which means they can be delivered to festivals and events that don’t normally have cellaring facilities. If a tapped cask is knocked, moved or even upended, the beer inside will still be clear. When not in use, a cask can be stored on its end, making it much more practical in small, cramped cellars.

The process means the beer no longer requires finings, so cask ale becomes acceptable to vegans.

Casks must still be tapped and vented to allow them to breathe.

Doubtless some ale aficionados will reject this as somehow being not ‘real’ ale because it’s not ‘traditional’.

The conversation I had with Marston’s was about taking a longer term historical view of the development of real ale. People who say traditional cask conditioned real ale as we know it today is ‘beer as it’s always been brewed’ are wrong. Traditional ‘running ales’ have only been around since the late nineteenth century, and were themselves one result of the scientific analysis of the behaviour and properties of yeast – an analysis which was decried by many at the time because it wasn’t ‘traditional’. If that process bore fruit a hundred years ago, it’s difficult to argue why we somehow should stop researching yeast now.

If people would simply rather have traditional cask ale that’s fine – Marston’s have no plans to phase it out, and will be offering Fast Cask alongside traditional cask.

We often talk about how cask ale is a living, breathing thing. Well living, breathing things evolve and grow and develop. Fast Cask is simply the next stage in cask ale’s evolution.

Hopefully it will be accepted as such rather than decried in a rerun of the whole cask breathers debate. Because like cask breathers, it makes no difference whatsoever to the quality or character of the beer. It’s still living, breathing real ale.

And it’s a move that helps spread the appreciation of that ale to people and places it can’t currently reach. Anyone who thinks that’s a bad thing really needs to have a word with themselves.

If you want to try it out, look out for Pedigree and Hobgoblin during Cask Ale Week (29th March to 5th April).

So what do you think? Is this good? Bad? Significant or not? Do you want to taste the beer first and then decide, or have you already made up your mind?