1. Pastey says
    12.17 pm
    07 June 2011

    I’ve had the argument about cask and keg many times, and sometimes from both sides. The main point that CAMRA make (I admit, I’m a CAMRA member) is that in a cask, the beer can breath and secondary fermentation can take place. Whereas in a keg, the beer can’t breath, secondary fermentation can’t take place.

    Well, to blow that one completely out of the water, what about bottle conditioned ale? It’s in a sealed bottle, and yet, it’s “real” ? Hmm.

    The problem with Keg is its image. Think keg and you think cheap rubbish that’s mass marketed to the idiocracy. But keg isn’t all like that, in the same way as CAMRA members aren’t all beared, beer-gutted, sandle wearing bores. For a start, I’m middle aged and still can’t grow a beard.

    Most decent continental beers (many of which beer advocates rave about) are kegged. Several decent UK beers (many of which beer advocates rave about) are kegged. I’ve not seen anyone come into Port Street yet and say “Oh, no I won’t have that Brew Dog because it’s on keg.”

    There’s other things to take into consideration, length of time of carbination, pressure, chilling, etc, etc, but basically I’m of the opinion of “Get over yourselves.” Kegged beer is the same as cask beer, and bottled beer, in that the good stuff is worth drinking, the Katz Pizz is worth leaving.

  2. Rick Ogden says
    12.20 pm
    07 June 2011

    In a lot of ways I believe this to be true. However, I think what is being missed in this article is the fact that if you put keg and cask head to head, which is more enjoyable? A great example is that I have had BrewDog 5am Saint both from the cask and from the keg. They were both extremely enjoyable, and one of my favourite beers of all time. However, if I had a choice, I’d choose the cask version. Why? Not because it is more “traditional”, not because keg is “wrong”, but because it has much more of a taste. As I am not a beer expert I don’t know whether that’s to do with the keg not being live, colder or carbonated. And frankly, I don’t really care, as I don’t see the reason as being important.

    This whole debate seems to be losing sight of the wood for the trees. Surely the ONLY important thing is how much you enjoy drinking it.

    • Jonny says
      12.40 pm
      07 June 2011

      Good point Rick, I think tasted side by side 5am for example taste quite distinct and some people prefer the keg version, some prefer the cask. I think there are some beers that will always be better in cask and vice versa, that extra bit of fermentation in the cask certainly has an effect on beer, of course this can be used as an argument both for and against.

      Pastey – ditto on the lack of beard vibe, i agree that stereotyping CAMRA member’s is wrong, but CAMRA will always be about the ‘RA’ part I guess that is why they were set up.

      • Pastey says
        12.44 pm
        07 June 2011

        Cask and keg will taste different, but so do the different methods of cask dispense. Straight from the tap, through a throw-over and through a swan neck and sparkler (yuk ;¬) all make the same cask beer taste completely different. Good keg is just another dispense method.

        Camra may be all about the RA, but how come bottled beer can be real but keg can’t?

        • Jonny says
          12.58 pm
          07 June 2011

          I think ‘bottle fermented’ is deemed to have enough fermentable material remaining or sometimes added to have discernable effect on the finished character, particularly through long aging. Most bottled beers are filtered or centrifuged to remove a lot of this stuff. Another question I guess is that a lot of crap beer, with practically nothing fermentable in it, laced with finings can be considered a ‘real ale’.

      • Rick Ogden says
        1.23 pm
        07 June 2011

        Yes, I think that’s the point. The clue is in the name of Camra. Of course Camra will (and should) be all about the real ale. I too am a Camra member, and in general I prefer real ale. I won’t turn my nose up at keg though. Just because you don’t follow the Camra line doesn’t mean it’s wrong, nor does it mean Camra are wrong.

  3. Darren T says
    1.45 pm
    07 June 2011

    Pretty sure the “Judas concert” definitely was the Manchester Free Trade Hall on May 17 1966. That’s what it says on the back of my Bootleg Series Vol 4 CD.

  4. Jay Krause says
    9.16 am
    08 June 2011

    It’s a strange debate, this, and one which is even stranger as the main points seem to me to be argued from subjective viewpoints. Some people prefer cask and some people prefer keg. Some people dislike over pressured keg, some people like it. Some like gravity dispensed cask, some like sparklers. Ad nauseum.

    I’d prefer a great keg beer to a bad cask beer any day. It’s ridiculous to completely rule out keg from your life as most (all?) US beers aren’t going to be shipped to the UK in anything but a keg, and I honestly don’t think that some of the styles they produce would be any good on cask.

    Of course CAMRA should be all about real ale. That’s what it was set up to defend and it continues to do so very well, I feel. Every beer festival I’ve been to recently has reported growing attendance and most of these don’t have keg beers, which does say a great deal for cask. Personally I still think that it’s impossible to beat cask when in top condition – cellarmanship may be the most important role any pub can have – but that’s only my opinion and I’ll still happily have keg over cask depending on my mood at the time, it’s not a black and white choice for me.

    /end essay

  5. Mark Hensby says
    3.18 pm
    09 June 2011

    Cask v Keg. Keg beers are, in almost every case, sterile filtered at very low temperatures so that all particles are removed typically everything smaller than .4 of a micron. They are then kegged under CO2 pressure and again dispensed with CO2 pressure. Try drinking one of the major Keg brands at room temperature 2 hours after dispense, there will be either no flavour or it will be vile.

    The point here is that in the UK, and much of North America, producing keg beer is an industrial process for massive corporations who are driven by accountants. They generally use cheap fermentables (notably High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and chemically derived hop flavourings.

    The point about Cask and Bottle Conditioned Beer (CAMRA RAIB) is that it is completely natural. There is no filtration and the carbonation takes place in the bottle or cask as a result of the secondary fermentation. The rest of the pro keg argument is all about shelf life, cask beer once tapped in a cellar must be sold in 3/4 days, keg will last weeks or even months.

    It’s the difference between fresh milk and UHT.

    • Jonny says
      12.28 pm
      10 June 2011

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your comments, I wouldn’t dispute everything you’ve stated, but I do think there is a place in the market for smaller brewers using keg. Never in place of cask but potentially to cater to a slightly different demographic. I’m not sure, Hardknott, Thornbridge, Harviestoun, Hawkshead et al have access to the industrialised processes you refer to or use cheap adjuncts or hop extracts/oils. I know you’re making reference to huge multinational brewers but they aren’t the ones I was talking about.

  6. Matt says
    4.37 pm
    24 June 2011

    Hey guys, quick question on this topic to anyone in the know. What about unpasteurised or unfiltered kegs? Fruh koelsch for example is I believe unpasteurised but kegged and there is a massive difference in flavour between the draught and bottled(which is filtered and pasteurised). I believe the draught Brooklyn Lager is also unpasteurised. In fruhs case this definitely benefits the product but is there much difference generally apart from a shortening of shelf life?

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