Monday, 26 October 2015

Is it time to change our attitude on keg?

To some of the more mature beery brethren, the title above may cause raised eyebrows, shaking of ones head - or even accusations of heresy.

However, is 'keg' such a 'bad' word in 2015? It certainly was in the seventies eighties, when the big brewers were trying to force crappy keg beer down our throats. Cheaper ingredients, longer shelf life and lower production costs were paramount - and bollocks to the taste and quality.

However, times have changed considerably. Keg beers are now unrecognisable to beers from the 'bad era'. Now, you indetify a plethora of flavours, from the quality hops and grains that are used in the brewing process.

They are now witnessed in the majority of town and city bars, as the younger generation in particular, are finally realising there is a world of difference between tasteless Carling and tasty craft.

Okay, I Iove cask conditioned beer - there's nothing quite like it. However, I always despair when some folk are critical of me having the odd craft keg beer - or even, God forbid, a wheat beer!

Some of the older generation still seem entrenched in the 'dark era' of crappy keg. And there is a certain nevousness - even a shudder, a shake of the head - and the commen response: "that beer is shite."When the 'swear' word is raised.

This attitude to keg, well, craft keg, is no longer valid, in my opinion. We have to embrace the keg revolution - to a degree.

I'm not saying recommend it over cask - I would never advocate that. Just appreciate that there is now some tasty kegs on offer - even if it's not agreeable to your palate. 

Come on, show craft keg a little respect. What is the point saying: "load of shite!" No beer is shite, if it's well kept - and has quality ingredients. I politely say: "it's not to my taste." Although some of it is to my taste.

I am sure beer 'connoisseurs' who read my scribblings will agree, there ain't many around who do more to promote the beverage that is, cask conditioned beer. 

However, I fear I may have alienated one or two beery 'traditionalists' with the above narrative. 

But hey-ho, I respect a passionate and a fervent view - even if I believe in this case, that some keg beer attitudes are now outdated and entrenched. 

Hopefully, they will show the same respect for my take on present day craft keg beer. 

Let's face it, we have to move with the times. We cannot harbour all our pre- nineties opinions of shitty keg beer.  

Unfortunately and despairingly some groups still do. And surely they risk withering on the vine. Slowly and gradually destroying themselves in the process.



  1. Couldn't agree more and you have said the same as I have been saying for a while now. The worst part for me is that many of these people brandishing the anti-Keg banner have not and will not even try and decent craft keg, simply on principle. A principle developed in the 70's & 80's with good reason I grant you but times change and there is no comparison to what is available now. A good beer is a good beer, plain and simple. I for one will not be depriving myself of some good beers simply because of the delivery method!

  2. I agree, the cask=good, keg=bad mantra is a rubbish oversimplification. There are lots of good keg beers out there now (and indeed bad cask beers).

    My biggest concern though, and one which CAMRA simply haven't even begun to address, is that good keg is arguably more of a threat to good cask than bad keg ever was.

    Certainly down here, the choice increasingly facing drinkers is between interesting, tasty keg beers and bland, tepid cask. A lot of the better brewers are focusing on keg only and that's a real shame. I'd choose good keg over bad cask any day of the week, but this situation is surely exacerbating the decline of good cask beer. I don't care if Doom Bar sales are booming - it's crap - but I worry that soon I won't be able to have a hoppy APA or a saison or berlinerweisse etc. in cask at all.

    Let's not forget: Good keg beers are good because they are good, not because they are keg.

  3. I do wonder if this is a battle that hasn't already been won? Most of the beardy Camra types I know are more than happy to drink craft keg, as am I. I continually hear rumours that some large Camra festivals are looking at stocking some form of keg too. There will always be a minority who moan about things, that's just life.

    The only caveat I'd add though is that craft keg appears to me to be still a minority pursuit. If some people have a default anti-keg bias it may be because most of the stuff they encounter is still fairly dire.

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  5. There are too many Brewers out there producing cask beers out a dubious standard. These beers are then sold into pubs for circa £50 a cask. The beers are cheaply produced, don't taste of a great deal and only sell because they are cheap. I'm in Somerset, think of a brewery with a name like a quaint house. They are not the only ones!

    Whilst it should be lauded that there are 1200 or 1400 breweries in the UK, unfortunately it is the case that some are merely purveyors of cheap, dull ditchwater.

    Give me a decent keg beer any day. Don't get me wrong I love a pint of good cask ale but unfortunately when you walk into a pub you don't alway know what standard of cask beer will be served.

  6. Seem strange to be arguing in favour of keg when some of the "traditionalist" (fundamentalists?)won't even accept the cask breather which most people don't know is present a lot of the time! Excluding the Cask Breather system excludes some many fine beers from the GBG such as Hall & Woodhouse. Yes, definitely a time for a rethink all round.

  7. Good beer is good beer. Doesn't matter whether it has carbon dioxide in it or not. As mentioned above, battle has already been won, especially down south. CAMRA will have to redefine itself, it knows that, but there will be much anguish and old diehards resigning.

  8. I had an overpriced pint of keg beer at a Brewdog pub and it was so gassy it brought back unpleasant memories - of Youngers Tartan circa 1976 an I haven't been back since. However modern technology means that you should be able to dispense decent keg beer without gassing the crap out of it. I recently tasted some keg beer at the Fixed Wheel Brewery. The summer wheat was a bit gassy but you could hardly notice any gassiness in the Blackheath Stout. It would be ironic if the demise of cask beer was due to the introduction of quality craft "keg" beer immeasurably preferable to the ubiquitous Doom Bar.


  9. I'm not sure I agree with the proposal that "this is a battle that hasn't already been won" - due to the influence of CAMRA there are now a huge number of consumers who do not think anything in keg is good.

  10. The issue I have with keg is that they don't get reused. Last time I heard a used keg ends up in landfill - which is horrible compared to a reusable cask.

    1. It would make no financial sense not to reuse the kegs. I've never heard of this and I know all kegs we've sold craft or otherwise are reused