When is real ale not real ale? That is the ques­tion. Here’s how to tell

Southport Visiter - - Camra Column -

IKNOW that some of the terms used by beer lovers can be con­fus­ing, par­tic­u­larly “real ales”, “keg beers” and “craft beers”, writes Neville Grundy.

To be­gin with real ales: these are brewed in such a way that they fin­ish their fer­men­ta­tion in the bar­rel, are not fil­tered or pas­teurised, and are served with­out gas pres­sure.

Old-fash­ioned keg beers were brewed to a cer­tain point, pas­teurised to stop the fer­men­ta­tion process, fil­tered, and served us­ing car­bon diox­ide (CO2) pres­sure from a gas cylin­der.

Mod­ern smooth­flow beers are sim­i­lar, ex­cept that the gas is a mix­ture of CO2 and ni­tro­gen.

Why did brew­ers go for keg beers?

They could be pro­duced in huge quan­ti­ties, were never cloudy, and there was lit­tle waste.

They were easy to serve and their taste was con­sis­tent: at best bland, or at worst down­right un­pleas­ant, de­pend­ing who’d brewed it.

At one time it looked as though keg might take over the whole beer mar­ket, which led to the found­ing of Camra in the 1970s.

So far so good. Real ales are nat­u­rally-pro­duced prod­ucts, while keg beers and smooth­flow are not, which was quite straight­for­ward to un­der­stand un­til the ar­rival of craft beers in re­cent years.

These beers are skil­fully brewed us­ing good in­gre­di­ents with­out fil­ter­ing or pas­teuri­sa­tion, and most would qual­ify as real ales un­til the point when they are served, which is done us­ing gas pres­sure.

Be­cause of this, they do not fit the de­scrip­tion of “real ale” as de­fined, not only by Camra, but also by most mod­ern dic­tionar­ies.

This means that the main dif­fer­ence be­tween real ales and craft beers is not the pro­duc­tion process, but sim­ply the method of serv­ing.

Does this make a dif­fer­ence?

This is a con­tro­ver­sial ques­tion even within Camra, and the an­swer is that it’s a mat­ter of opin­ion. In the spirit of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, I have tried some craft beers: I’ve quite en­joyed them, and found they were far su­pe­rior to old-style keg beers.

How­ever, to me they were very like bot­tled beers, which can be very en­joy­able but do not match my per­sonal first choice: draught real ale.

Why not go out and have fun de­cid­ing what you pre­fer?

The lo­cal Camra web­site is at: www.south­port.camra. org.uk.

For pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles, go to: tinyurl.com/vis-pubs

The Tap & Bot­tles, South­port, sells both real ale and craft beers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.