Wednesday 24 April 2019

Crimes against cask

Being a second generation CAMRA member I'm used to moral certainty when it comes to beer. And although at times I have sinned and fallen short I am well aware of the evil that is extraneous CO2 and the sins of pasteurisation and filtration.

So I was shocked to discover whilst washing casks what can only be a new type of sin previously unknown to me. 

There in the small print on a sticker was evidence of grave crimes against cask:

"Once opened, use with[in] two weeks"! I don't know what numbskull came up with that sticker but unless they get on with some pretty serious repenting they are surely doomed to spend eternity in the fiery pit. Now with skill and dedication it may be possible to keep cask beer on for more than three days* after it's been opened but two weeks is bleedin' well taking the piss. Jesus Christ, it's hard enough doing beer as god intended without such wilful stupidity. It would be nice if people at least had some idea what they're doing when they serve cask beer. 

I won't be naming the company involved, as a brewer that works there assures me the sticker dates from when the company was under previous ownership. And he had mentioned to me before the poor reputation they had inherited and were trying to overcome, so I didn't leave him on the rack for too long before accepting his explanation and letting him go.

* And for those of you of a heretical disposition the recommended time a keg should be left on is five days. Oh yes it is.

Friday 12 April 2019

On the origin of evil

It's well known that keg beer is inherently evil, but when exactly does it become evil? This is something that I've been giving much though to, having become part of what I can only describe as the axis of evil myself. 

After the horrors inflicted on my taste buds, and soul, on Saturday I became truly forsaken this week as I found myself kegging beer. "Eloi eloi lama sabachthani" I thought as staff shortages lead to me doing the evil deed. But as I delivered god's love in liquid form over to the forces of darkness, 30 litres at a time, my mind turned to theological matters. Once beer is in a keg its chance to be served as god intended is gone, so surely filling kegs is sinful and though I wasn't drinking the stuff I was indeed sinning. 

The extraneous CO2 used to serve keg beer is often seen as the essence of evil, and for the laity it is an excellent indicator that the beer should be shunned. But the use of the gas is also an excellent indicator that earlier malevolence has been inflicted on the beer in the form of filtration and pasteurisation, reinforcing my view that  the evil starts before the beer is served. Though those of a nervous disposition will be pleased to hear that in this case the beer had suffered neither of those indignities. 

Much talk has been made recently of the brewer's intentions, and though I must admit I've thought it a right load of bollocks, does the evil start as soon as a brewer intends to keg their beer? And surely they would only do such a diabolical thing because there are customers willing to pay for such morally bankrupt products? I forget the details but it was either tennis players too lazy to walk to the pub or troops en route to join a global imperialist slaughter that first led to beer being kegged so either way it was not an auspicious start. Can original sin be traced back to those drinkers?

I am no great theologian but I can see evil at every stage of keg beer production, packaging, and consumption. Which is why, weeping inconsolably as I filled the kegs, I had to accept that I had become part of the axis of evil. Whether I am the biggest sinner I couldn't say, but I really need to stop my pondering and get on with saying a few more decades of Hail Protzes if I'm to save my immortal soul. 

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Culture in Hampstead

I do occasionally look at culture outside of Petri dishes. I can remember seeing The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice by the late great Bob Calvert soon after he died. And in the 30 years since then I've seen at least two more plays. There was The Accidental Death of an Anarchist about poor old Pinelli when it was on in Woking, and I got taken to see Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell at some point too. So three plays in 30 years makes it pretty clear that not only am I a regular theatre goer, but another visit was due.

Handily for me another of Bob Calvert's plays was being revived, in the same upstairs room at the pub in Hampstead I'd last seen one. Mirror, Mirror was written in 1979, but set in 2030. It's stood the test of time remarkably well, seemingly spookily like it was written about modern internet culture. He was a bright lad Bob, such a loss.

But what about the pub? A quick look at What Pub showed it's undergone some remarkable changes in the 30 years since I last visited. I remembered it as an ordinary, slightly scruffy boozer but at one point it became a Wetherspoons, before being tarted up and becoming the original home of Camden Town Brewery. This caused me some concern as they don't do beer as god intended, but I was reassured to read that two real ales would be available. Sadly it was not to be.

This is the future that crafties want
Being greeted by the sad sight of two unused hand pumps surrounded by evil keg took me back 30 years too, to the dark days when it was not uncommon to find pubs were keg only establishments. To think that this pub was once a Wetherspoons, where hand pumps would have pride of place and the beer would have been considerably less than £5 a pint showed how things are degenerating.

The Camden Pale served from the devil's drainpipe was, I suppose, some improvement on the keg bitter of 30 years ago but still so, so inferior to cask. I brings me no joy to report that the fools and charlatans that told us craft keg was no threat to cask have been proved wrong. Satan and his servants are attacking cask beer on many fronts and the struggle of the faithful for beer as god intended is as important as ever.