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.

UPDATE

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.

Fordham Flower on Keg vs. Cask

“[A] fair description of a beer keg is a smallish metal cask, from which beer is dispensed by carbon-dioxide pressure, and of which the three essential properties are: an ability to be sterilised, a capability to withstand fairly high pressures, and… a perfect and unalterable measure… The first container casualty has been the traditional wooden cask, which falls down on all three counts.

Sad though this is for those of us who were weaned on ‘beer from the wood,’ the advent of the metal cask, the only major change in centuries for containing draught beer, is not really as revolutionary as some people think. All that has happened is that familiar materials, like stainless steel and aluminium, have been developed and fashioned in known ways for a new purpose.”

Sir Fordham Flower, Chairman of Flower’s Brewery, 1962, explaining the benefits of ‘space age keg’.