Diversity at GBBF

8 Responses

  1. Robyn says:

    There is a lot of confusion being perpetuated here regarding “cask” ale – when what is actually being talked about is “Live” or “real” ale – and indeed it is very difficult to have very low or zero alcohol real ale. For clarity – “cask” is simply the container – like a bottle, a keg or a can – and does nothing to describe the contents!

    We did make efforts at GBBF this year to ensure that there were plenty of lower strength options – our lowest ABV on the cask side was 2.2% – and there were others below 3% also. On the Keykeg we went as low as 2.7% if I remember correctly. These were ALL live, real ales – as indeed all the UK beers at the festival were. (And by the way, the Keykeg stuff didn’t storm any gates – we took the gates off their hinges and positively ushered it in!)

    • Laura says:

      Thanks Robyn. ‘Storming the gates’ was rather for dramatic effect (but not entirely misplaced judging by the heckling in the crowd at the CBoB presentation).

      I do understand what you are saying as cask being merely a container. However, when I was pregnant even a 2.2% beer is something I would only have a half of once a month or every six weeks or so, and I think on the whole a large range of people are interested in 0.5% or lower options. As you point out, not technically easy. So the point I was trying to make, I think, is should the industry be focusing on trying to make a very low alcohol real ale, or should CAMRA be considering promoting more of the wide range of quality bottled and canned low alcohol offerings that already exist? Or am I wrong to flag it at all?

  2. Ben Viveur says:

    In Eastern Europe it’s still fairly common to find traditional Kvass, which has a gentle condition very much like cask beer. In bottle it tends to be far more sparkling and is presumably force-carbonated – I’ve also had it from a keg-type dispense which was predictably more keg beer-like in nature.

    As this is naturally fermented but doesn’t get stronger than about 0.5%, it looks like it’s possible to get a cask-style conditioning without the alcohol. I wonder what hopped Kvass might be like?

    • Laura says:

      That’s a very interesting example. Using rye bread instead of just rye I guess fewer sugars are extracted, keeping the ABV low. It reminds me of a homebrew book I have which gives a supposedly Leicester recipe for using toast to make beer 🙂

  3. Mark says:

    A major point of casking is that the beer develops a moderate level of carbonation, aka ‘condition’. Without it beers taste flat, and low-levels of carbonation seem to enhance some of the flavours in beer (the high levels found in some kegged beers can kill flavour in my view, but I’m sure you’ll find people that disagree with that). Assuming you remove the alcohol prior to casking, you’d still want fermentable sugars and yeast to be present, possibly be re-seeding with fresh yeast if the beer has been heat treated. If the yeast then acts on the fermentable sugars to produce C02, it’s also producing (a small amount of) alcohol. If you then remove that alcohol you’re going to lose the C02, hence no condition. I’m not what the way round this would be, but obviously if you’re force carbonating the beer (ie. kegging) it doesn’t matter anyway. If you’re after a ‘low’ abv cask conditioned beer you could probably get away with it but I can’t really see the point tbh.

  4. Mark says:

    No-alcohol cask is a fundamental problem. The whole point of cask is that it conditions in the vessel it’s served from. Condition through the action of yeast on fermentables = alcohol.

    Of course there’s no reason why a no-alcohol beer shouldn’t have condition, just not the real ale version.

    • Laura says:

      This is the bit that I don’t understand. I get the processes involved – heat extraction, osmosis and direct extraction. These would all be done before the beer was casked. But is the condition only influential on the fermentables – e.g. there would be no point in casking vs kegging, bottling or canning?

      I value others’ expertise here to help me understand it better!!

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