|Camrasaurus trudge on bemused by what is about to occur.|
Sixty-Five million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped out by something beyond their control, why? Because they weren't advanced/evolved/intelligent enough to do something about the fate which befell them. However the race which crawled from the primordial aftermath eventually evolved into Homo Sapiens with intelligence & who now have the capability to counter such a threat that the dinosaurs faced long before it would happen.
So what am I getting at? Yes you guessed it! The Camra/Keg debate.
Earlier this week Camra's monthly newspaper was released & it contained an article written by Camra's very own messiah Mr Roger Protz the Editor of the Good Beer Guide. These are excerpts from his article:-
“Far from joining hands with CAMRA round the birthday cake, some craft brewers and beer writers have chosen this year of all years to attack the campaign for – and I almost have to suspend disbelief as I type these words – refusing to embrace keg beer.”
“At the risk of patronising them, many weren’t born or were too young to appreciate just how dire the beer scene was in the early 1970’s. The likes of Watney’s Red, Worthington E and Double Diamond were spreading like some dreadful bacillus across the country. Breweries were either closing or switching to keg production.”
“And yet, in spite of these facts, CAMRA is being criticised for refusing to embrace keg beer. It seems scarcely credible, yet the question of CAMRA and keg raised its over-carbonated head at the annual SIBA conference in February. Some SIBA members are either making keg beer or are considering doing so and wanted to know what the Campaign’s attitude would be. My reply – and it was a personal one – was that if some brewers want to make keg they are perfectly free to do so but, given the current success of cask beer, I thought they would do better to concentrate on real ale.”
Now Camra celebrates the fact it has 120,000 members yet how many have the same views as Roger? I doubt it's even a few percent, & yet how is it their policy is dictated by the minority? Surely average members voices should be heard like Neil's thoughts here.
There are those closer to the top of the organisation who have a very fuzzy hole ridden argument about why the new wave of keg beer should not be credenced:-
They harp on about keg beer of the 70's being awful dead filtered beer, a fact that no-one can deny. But they incorrectly describe keg beer as a 'style', keg is NOT a style of beer, it is a mode of dispense as is cask beer. I read a comment in reply to Roger on the BeerCast blog from Mark at the BeerBirraBier blog & he hit the nail on the head so instead of regurgitate his comments I'll copy & paste them:-
"Maybe having lived through the 70’s is preventing Roger from seeing the difference between a poor beer being put into a keg and a great beer being put into a keg. GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT. A brilliant beer doesn’t become poor just because it’s put into a keg.
The method of dispense is a means to an end. Some styles are enhanced by one particular closure whereas others are worsened. Put a beer in the container that presents it in the best possible way to the drinker. Simple."
"For hop-forward, American style IPA’s and IIPA’s, nothing beats the higher carbonation and extra chill of a keg. Sampling any of them at the GBBF bar that CAMRA forced into gravity dispense casks proved that … although it seems the mere presence of them at the festival is testament to CAMRAs forward thinking …"
Now herein lies the very crux of the issue, Camra say keg is a style which was characterised by pasteurised dead beer from the 70's. The crucial differences here are the beer being kegged by the new wave of craft brewers is non-pasteurised, largely unfiltered beer that is of infinitely higher quality than 70's dead keg.
You drink our cask ales & enjoy them, then believe we sneak around in the early hours pasteurising & dumbing down our wares ready for keg with a mind to destroying ever popular cask ale in the UK? C'mon Roger surely not even you believe that! The fact that most new wave keg beer is 'KeyKeg' which is essentially real ale in a keg the only difference is it is slightly pre-carbonated & served without a beer engine or a sparkler, no extraneous C02, none.
This is about handing choice & diversity to the consumer to grow our market share, not to destroy our beloved cask ale in the UK. It's a about having a diverse show with many facets to take yet more share from the macros.
There are many outlets around the country installing guest keg lines & it is proliferating, fast! So what will be your response? To ignore, to denigrate? Does that not make you as ignorant as those who ignore cask ale?
You are becoming defensive to what the current wave of exciting UK brewers are doing & instead of talking to us & finding out solid facts about what we are doing you quickly scurry back to the hills waving the 'evil keg' banner. We are not saying we are going to overnight shift our production into keg, cask will always remain king in Britain, all we ask is some credence for our innovative efforts to draw more drinkers into the quality beer market.
I'm excited about where this industry is going & what we have the potential to be, the US market is currently the perfect antimatter to the UK market, the majority of their beer is keg but cask beer is growing in popularity over there & guess what?! They are positively embracing it, as they believe it adds value to their industry, just as superb quality keg beer adds to our market.
I'll leave you with @neil_bowness thoughts because he is a Camra member & I am not.
"I would like to challenge you and CAMRA on this front: stop preaching, stop lecturing and try educating by helping drinkers make an informed choice, not just telling them that it is good because it comes from out of a cask."
"Far too often I’ve seen beer being lauded for it’s real ale and local credentials, but the liquid has been verging on the undrinkable. I am fortunate enough to live in Cumbria, a county with over 30 breweries and which I’m happy to help promote but - hand on heart - I cannot truthfully say that all of their beer is good, but I will continue to support them."
"Yes, cask beer may have been lost in the UK* had CAMRA not been established, and yes, the real ale market is doing very well, but don’t think for one minute that every pub in the land would suddenly see a massive reversal in fortunes off the back of introducing more cask ale.
To bring this to conclusion, I feel your article shows that you and many CAMRA members are still in a mindset that was relevant in the early 1970s - to illustrate, in the very first paragraph, you make reference to Spitfire aircraft in the last world war. This outlook reflects a generational attitude which CAMRA could do well to distance itself from should they wish to continue in any meaningful fashion for another 40 years."
Surely it's time to stop looking backwards & back patting for a victory 20 years since won & embrace what's ahead, if not you will end up becoming a 'liberation remembrance club'. You could learn an awful lot from SIBA's progressive all embracing stance & evolve with the times to become relevant, potent & fit for use in our modern, dynamic beer world, if not, it's the way of the dinosaurs I'm afraid.