Draught Guinness 1958: Two Casks, One Tap

Draught Guinness™ is something different to draught Guinness. Exactly how it worked, and how it changed over time, has long puzzled us. Now, we at least have a clear explanation from one point in time – 1958.

The edi­tion of Guin­ness Time for spring that year includes a four-page arti­cle, heav­i­ly illus­trat­ed, on draught Guin­ness. It clears up some of the con­fu­sion we felt when we wrote this piece a cou­ple of years ago based on a sim­i­lar arti­cle from 1971.

Men working with metal casks.
‘T. Byrne and A.E. George cleans­ing casks under the super­vi­sion of Fore­man L. Elliott.’
1. Wood gives way to metal

It begins by set­ting out the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion around met­al and wood­en casks:

Although a few Pub­lic Hous­es still serve Draught Guin­ness ‘from the wood’, is is now nor­mal­ly set out in Stain­less Steel met­al casks. The devel­op­ment of met­al casks suit­able for con­tain­ing Draught Guin­ness was not as easy as it may sound and it involved the intro­duc­tion of new taps and oth­er asso­ci­at­ed fit­tings. The orig­i­nal inven­tor of the equip­ment was Mr J.F.T. Barnes, the founder of Uni­ver­sal Brew­ery Equip­ment Ltd… but many improve­ments in design were effect­ed by the late Mr E.J. Grif­fiths and J.R. Moore. The tran­si­tion from wood­en to met­al casks, which attract­ed a great deal of crit­i­cism dur­ing the ear­ly days just after the last War, has now been vir­tu­al­ly com­plet­ed and is accept­ed every­where.

There are hints of the Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of the Wood yet to arrive, in 1963, and this helps us pin down when ‘beer from the wood’ became a com­mon phrase.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Draught Guin­ness 1958: Two Casks, One Tap”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 3 March 2018: Norway, Nitrogen, Nanas

Here’s all the news and comment that grabbed our attention in the past week, from keg dispense to Rwandan banana beer.

First, Will Hawkes, who you can trust to make a sto­ry about keg beer dis­pense for Imbibe inter­est­ing:

Keg beer dis­pense qual­i­ty is not often talked about in the UK, at least in con­trast to the per­pet­u­al hand-wring­ing that goes on with regard to cask ale. But it deserves to be a very big issue, because a huge num­ber of pubs and bars in the UK are not set up to serve craft keg beer in the best con­di­tion.… That’s because most keg dis­pense equip­ment in the UK has been designed to suit low-car­bon­a­tion, ster­ile-fil­tered big-name lager brands, which are rel­a­tive­ly easy to look after. But mod­ern craft beers come in a bewil­der­ing vari­ety and they need indi­vid­ual treat­ment, be that a high­er tem­per­a­ture of serve or a dif­fer­ent gas mix.

For Orig­i­nal Grav­i­ty Jes­si­ca Mason pro­vides a dif­fi­cult, emo­tion­al­ly intense read about her fam­i­ly and father, ‘the worst man I had ever met in my entire life’, anchored around the pub:

I knew I had mere hours with a man I didn’t know. But with a hun­dred ques­tions in my head none of which could be answered by some­one intent on impress­ing me, I would need to put my ques­tions aside and make him feel at ease enough to remove his veneer. But how would I do that? Strange­ly enough, I did know. I need­ed just two sim­ple props: a pub table and some beer.

Norway in the snow.
SOURCE: Good Beer Hunt­ing

This piece about Nor­we­gian home-brew­ers by Jon­ny Gar­rett for Good Beer Hunt­ing is packed with love­ly pho­tographs, inter­est­ing inci­dents and engag­ing char­ac­ters:

Reines and I are shar­ing a qui­et moment at the after-par­ty of the town’s home­brew com­pe­ti­tion and fes­ti­val, which he orga­nizes. Things are get­ting a lit­tle philo­soph­i­cal because, well, we’ve been drink­ing since lunchtime. We’ve just spent a half hour kneel­ing on the floor in front of his new sound sys­tem, lis­ten­ing to Nordic heavy met­al at a vol­ume I was sure would echo across the fjords and all the way back to my home in Eng­land.

Our favourite thing? Fritz the buck­et. (Odd­ly mis­named Franz in the text.)

Edwardian advertisement for Edelweiss beer: top hatted man points at beer with his diamond-topped cane.

Katie at The Snap and the Hiss has fur­ther thoughts on the afford­abil­i­ty and desir­abil­i­ty of craft beer, and the swirling tides of aspi­ra­tion and mar­ket­ing that sur­round it:

I am ful­ly aware and appre­cia­tive of the costs involved in cre­at­ing beer and I am in no doubt that prices are fair (for the most part). I just know that I’m not flush enough. So what am I sug­gest­ing here? That brew­eries should make no-frills beer for us poor peo­ple too? That there should be a pay-it-for­ward scheme involved? No, of course not. I’m just high­light­ing the fact that keep­ing up with trends in craft beer is exclu­sion­ary in it’s nature and there should be some aware­ness of this. Not every­body can take part. This does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean that the peo­ple who can’t or don’t take part are any less enthu­si­as­tic about beer than the peo­ple col­lect­ing new cans like Poké­mon cards.

Sighing bar staff.

There’s been a fair bit of news on the sex­ism-in-beer front this week:

  1. SIBA has announced its inten­tion to move for­ward with plans for a code of prac­tice for (or rather against) offen­sive beer mar­ket­ing.
  2. The Port­man Group held a focus group about sex­ist beer pack­ag­ing this week as part of review­ing its guid­ance.
  3. Amer­i­can brew­ery Stone dropped a bizarre, awful social media clanger with what seemed to be a joke about sex­u­al con­sent. This sto­ry con­tin­ues to devel­op.
  4. Jeff Alworth has been run­ning a series of posts on this sub­ject with input from var­i­ous women in the indus­try, our favourite of which is the con­clu­sion: ‘What You Can Do’.
  5. Nic­ci Peet, a Bris­tol-based pho­tog­ra­ph­er spe­cial­is­ing in beer-relat­ed sub­jects, has launched a project to doc­u­ment women in the UK beer indus­try you can find out more and sup­port her work at Patre­on.

Beer being poured, from an old advertisement.

Brew­ers! You will want to get your hands on the new e‑book by Andreas Kren­mairHis­toric Ger­man and Aus­tri­an Beers for the Home Brew­er. He’s under­tak­en lots of painstak­ing research to come up with recipes for every­thing from Dreher-style Vien­na lager to Mannheimer Braun­bier. We bought a copy and have already found lots to chew on even though we don’t have any imme­di­ate plans to brew.


Here’s some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent: from the BBC World Ser­vice pro­gramme Out­look, some audio, on the sub­ject of  Rwan­dan ‘banana beer’. Chris­tine Mureb­wayire grew up in a fam­i­ly of banana beer brew­ers and then, many years lat­er, used it to drag her fam­i­ly out of pover­ty:

A lot of peo­ple like to drink banana beer but some edu­cat­ed, smart peo­ple feel uncom­fort­able drink­ing it because it’s not a very sophis­ti­cat­ed drink. So I thought, if I could make a smarter drink to drink on social occa­sions, it will appeal to a big­ger mar­ket.…”

(We think you should be able to lis­ten to this world­wide; apolo­gies if not.)

This week we’ll fin­ish not with a Tweet as usu­al but with a film trail­er: Walk Like a Pan­ther is a real sign of the times – a Full Mon­ty style com­e­dy about a com­mu­ni­ty band­ing togeth­er to save the local pub from clo­sure.

Q&A: What Was the First Kegged Craft Beer?

What was the first kegged “craft”? Freehouses had keg lines – something must have been number one.’ Paul, Edinburgh (@CanIgetaP)

Bai­ley has recent­ly been read­ing What Was the First Rock­’N’Roll Record? by Jim Daw­son and Steve Propes. Rather than declare an answer it puts for­ward a list of 50 can­di­dates from 1944 to 1956 and explains the claim each has to the title. We’re going to steal that approach.

Watney's Red Barrel (detail from beer mat).

1. Wat­ney’s Red Bar­rel, Lon­don, 1931.
Wait, bear with us! It was the first keg bit­ter, full stop, and when it first emerged was a well-regard­ed export qual­i­ty beer. We’ve tast­ed a clone of a 1960s ver­sion and it was bet­ter than some keg red or amber ales cur­rent­ly being put out by larg­er brew­eries through their craft sub-brands.

1970s photograph of two men in horn-rimmed glasses inspecting beer.
Tom­my Mar­ling takes the tem­per­a­ture of draught Guin­ness watched by Mr Bill Steggle, licensee of the Cock at Headley near Epsom. SOURCE: Guin­ness Time.

2. Draught Guin­ness, 1958.
Please con­tin­ue to bear with us. In the mid-20th Cen­tu­ry draught Guin­ness was a super-hip beer and appar­ent­ly very tasty, but hard to find. Tech­ni­cians at the brew­ery worked out a way to reli­ably dis­pense it from one ves­sel with a creamy head and it went on to take over the world. It was brewed in both Dublin and Lon­don. CAMRA vet­er­an Bar­rie Pep­per is once report­ed to have said that if all keg beer had been as good as draught Guin­ness CAMRA would nev­er have got off the ground.

a. Ger­man and Bel­gian beers began to appear more fre­quent­ly in Britain at the end of the 1970s, usu­al­ly  bot­tled, but occa­sion­al­ly on draught. In the mid-1980s Sean Franklin at Roost­er’s and Peter Austin at Ring­wood con­sid­ered keg­ging their beers but nei­ther bit the bul­let.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Q&A: What Was the First Kegged Craft Beer?”

In Brief: CAMRA and Key Kegs

This report by Tandleman on the Campaign for Real Ale annual general meeting is worth a read.

He argues that, on the whole, ‘back­ward fac­ing motions were defeat­ed, while pro­gres­sive motions were passed’. Among those car­ried was Motion 15:

This Con­fer­ence instructs the Nation­al Exec­u­tive to inves­ti­gate a labelling scheme for nat­u­ral­ly con­di­tioned Key Keg beer, which would allow cus­tomers to iden­ti­fy which beers, at the point of sale, con­form with the CAMRA cri­te­ria for real ale.

This is sig­nif­i­cant, as we under­stand it, because it paves the way for beer in ‘key kegs’ to appear at CAMRA beer fes­ti­vals, as long as they meets cer­tain tech­ni­cal cri­te­ria – that is to say, that they are unfil­tered and unpas­teurised, con­tain a cer­tain pro­por­tion of live yeast, and are car­bon­at­ed with­out the addi­tion of CO2 from an exter­nal source. (Key kegs use gas, but the gas does­n’t actu­al­ly come into con­tact with the beer.)

This is not a whole­heart­ed embrace of keg beer, over­turn­ing 40+ years of prin­ci­ples upon which the Cam­paign was built. Nor is it ‘CAMRA goes craft’. And we sus­pect it will take a long time for the results to be evi­dent in the wild, too, with much bureau­cra­cy to nego­ti­ate.

But it is impor­tant as a ges­ture, like that sim­ple hand­shake between Barack Oba­ma and Raúl Cas­tro last Decem­ber.

The let­ters page in next mon­th’s What’s Brew­ing should be fun, though, while those pas­sion­ate craft beer types who CAMRA has already alien­at­ed will prob­a­bly regard this, sourly, as too lit­tle, too late.


Com­ment below if you like but this is most­ly just a point­er to Tan­dle­man’s post where there’s a live­ly dis­cus­sion already under­way.

1950s Beer Mats

We picked up these among a bun­dle of 16 for £4.99 inc. deliv­ery on Ebay.