We will never taste what you taste

There are some champions of cask ale (quite a few) who truly seem baffled by how people can be at all impressed by kegged or bottled beer. They are no doubt sincere in finding cask ale a superior tasting product in almost every instance.

To that group of people, hearing us and others say that, occasionally, we prefer the kegged or bottled version of a beer, and that we frequently enjoy kegged beers, must seem irritating in the extreme.

In fact, they must feel pretty much how we do when we hear people say they “just can’t taste skunking“.

There’s a fundamental lack of mutual understanding which, unfortunately, could probably only be solved by a temporary swapping of tastebuds.

Note: there are also a large number of cask ale fanatics who are just awkward sods with a fondness for rigid rules and correcting people. That’s not who we’re talking about.

Wild Hop: what a corker

We’re always delighted to try new beers from Crouch Vale, the hop-happy Essex brewery. So far, they’ve never let us down. The worst we could say of any of those we’ve tried is that the beers they make with the highest alpha American hops are sometimes too grassy for our taste but, even then, they’ve always been drinkable and interesting.

We really can’t say enough good things about Wild Hop, though. After some recent pondering on the use of hedgerow hops in brewing (we’ve got a load in the freezer), the pump clip caught our eye immediately on a recent trip to Cask in Pimlico.

The pale yellow pint was served little colder than usual (fine with us) and with a thick white head. It is one of those beers which tastes like two in one. First, a rather flowery, soft, sweetish beer which is all about the hops; then, a few moments later, up pops a whole load of really satisfying, back-of-the-throat malty bite. It’s a really solid, cereal, rye-cracker flavour which, yes, makes you thirsty.

Sadly, it was one pint only — we had the last two from the cask. We will be hunting this down again next year.

Schlenkerla Helles

Last year, we met up with Ron Pattinson in Cask and spent a few hours discussing Franconia, East Germany and His Big Book. Ron spotted Schlenkerla Helles in the fridge and recommended it.

We’d not tried it before and loved it. There is no smoked malt in the beer but, being brewed in the same building and with the same equipment as their darker smoked beers, it can’t help but pick up a bit of smokiness.

We never got round to writing this up and, in the months since then, we haven’t seen it on sale in Cask. Our favourite London pub has recently, however, even further expanded it’s beer selection and the Helles has popped up again so were able to enjoy a couple of bottles this week.

In fact, if you’re a fan of Rauchbier, Cask now has several different varieties on offer, in addition to the usual suspects from Schlenkerla.

Thornbridge Raven: we like it

It seems we’re the last to the party on this so-called ‘Black IPA’, having already seen posts by:

We finally tracked it down at Cask in Pimlico last night. We liked it but, at 6.6%, and with an almost harsh bitterness and rich, mouth-coating hops, it was one to enjoy by the half and at a leisurely pace.

The oxymoron in the name is a bit irritating — black and pale..? — although we can see what they’re getting at. We’d probably call it a flowery porter.

Isn't it obvious that cask is better?

This is an interesting and typically passionate post from Brewvana ask why we in Britain need a campaign group to defend and promote cask beer when, to Wilson at least, it’s blindingly obvious how much better it is than keg.

Is the main reason that big breweries (like Whitbread and Watney) had a virtual monopoly and aggressively pushed keg, which was easier for them to package and store? Or did consumers get a taste for it because it was bland but more reliable?

Can the answer be condensed into anything shorter than a small book?