BrewDog has just announced LIVE beer (their capitalisation) – a version of their session-strength Dead Pony Club packaged with live yeast and conditioned in the keg.
Of course they are obliged to present it as a great breakthrough, and deny that it’s anything like CAMRA approved real ale, for the sake of pride, just as CAMRA could only grudgingly approve of certain keg beers after much soul-searching. (See Chapter 14 of Brew Britannia for more on that.)
The thing is, quite apart from the fact we’ve been hearing gossip about this for months – tales of Martin Dickie and team earnestly studying cask ales with notebooks in hand in Scottish pubs, a false rumour of cask ale’s imminent reinstatement at certain BrewDog bars – it was inevitable BrewDog would do something with live yeast at some point.
Imagine the pickle they’ve been in since they made a big deal of dropping cask half a decade ago just as American brewers decide it’s the cutting edge of alternative beer culture.
Imagine how annoying it must be to know, in your heart of hearts, that beers with live yeast are interesting, are a part of tradition with a compelling story, are the beer equivalent of stinky cheese and sourdough bread, but that you’ve made it a point of principle not to do it in large part because your ‘brand values’ (modern, hip) are at odds with the Campaign for Real Ale’s (traditional, curmudgeonly), as well as for convenience. Not very ‘craft’.
Now CAMRA are finding a way to live with kegs (of a sort), and BrewDog are finding a way to live with real ale (of a sort), is it too soon to start dreaming of demobilisation and street parties? And might we see a BrewDog stand at the Great British Beer Festival in 2017?