Sunday, 7 October 2018

Surviving the cask free years

When Cloudwater, Britain's most important brewery*, announced it was ceasing production of cask beer it was the death knell for it. As a devout member of the one, beery, catholic and apostolic beer consumers organisation I was hit particularly hard by this. I gave up going to the pub as I just found it too hard to bear the thought of going there to only drink from the devil's drainpipe.

Bottle conditioned beers let me continue my personal relationship with the one true living beer and my home brew served from Cornelius kegs resembled real ale enough to save me from complete despair. And I recently had an astonishing discovery that prefigured the joyous news that Cloudwater are returning to cask production.

After a long day climbing in Langdale with a friend I called in at the Old Dungeon Ghyll. It was getting late and we were hungry so decided to eat at the pub. To my astonishment and delight I saw that there were hand pumps on the bar that appeared to be serving! I could scarcely believe my eyes! I checked there was no devilry at work, but these were no fake hand pumps, our mother church having seen them off in the 90s.

Eyeing up the beer range I suggested a couple of beers to my friend but he only chose after checking it was the cask beers I was referring to. As if I would suggest anything else!

The beer was everything I had hoped for and to once more be drinking beer as god intended was like a dream come true. How cask beer managed to cling on in Langdale I couldn't say. Perhaps the isolation of the valley and lack of mobile phone reception meant they'd never heard of the death of cask.

My trip to the Lake District ended all too soon, but once home my every waking thought was consumed with when I could get back. Then the momentous news came in that Cloudwater were resuming cask production. On hearing this my plans to sell up and move to Langdale were put on the back burner and for the first time in years I stepped into my local. Nervously I looked across to the bar and yes, the hand pumps were in action. The cask free years were a hard struggle, but the darkness is now behind us, cask beer is alive!

* Not in terms of volume but I think it came second in some online poll or a beer rating site or something.