Thursday 5 September 2013

What No Evil Keg Bitter?

A thought occurred to me while engaging in my latest heavy drinking session at The Tap House.  It's the age of Craft Beer, right?  That much we know.  We have it all, it seems.  Craft keg IPAs, craft keg pale ales, craft keg stouts etc. etc.

But there's one thing we don't seem to have.  Craft keg session bitter.

There does seem to be a few reasons for this.  A big one is the defeated spectre of Watney's Red Barrel, the infamous keg bitter from the 60s and 70s.  A drink so vile, that the legendary Jimmy Anstruther put it on the same level as crypto-Trotskyists, papist rapists and Chinese restaurants.

There is also the antipathy of the Crafties towards the "boring brown bitter" that the Beards drink.  Seen as having no discernable flavour, the Kernels and Partizans of this world would be extremely wary in making a beer that their hipster clientele is unlikely to even try, never mind consume in any quantity.

So, since the two major tribes of BeerWorld will never try a keg bitter, that must be the reason one has never been made.  Or, at least, not one that I have ever seen.

But I say - Why not?  Surely if these innovative, cutting-edge Craft Beer brewers are as skilled as they claim, then could they not make a palatable keg bitter?  Would this not be the supreme test of beer making skill, since apparently any idiot can chuck in kilos of hops and chill it down to 4 degrees Celsius?

Come on you Crafties - take up my challenge.  I will be first person at the font to try it should you do so...


  1. If they want it to break out of the beer bubble that's what they need to do, particularly since the general trend in pub drinking is towards lower-strength beers. The Americans are already making "session IPAs".

  2. Keg bitter is alive and well - I thought, what about stuff like Ruddles Smooth or Boddingtons?

  3. I'm sure the Big Steel Shed brewers like InBev and GK can find room for a keg bitter in their schedules. However, I've heard these are utter filth.

    What I want is a Meantime or a Magic Rock to do a keg bitter. And maybe try getting away with charging £6 a pint for it. They may have to "reposition" it, say by calling it "Traditional English Pale Ale" or something.

    If anything would get the Beards drinking Evil Keg it would be this.

    1. All Meantime beers are keg, but why charge £6 a pint? To do so would be the worst form of marketing hype; a totally unecessary case of style over substance?

  4. Quite a few of the "Beards" drink "Evil Keg" already. You really should get out more.

  5. But some at least continue to regard it as the spawn of the devil, as you can see from the letters column of "What's Brewing".

  6. The letters column of What's Brewing has also published letters of a contrary view, as you will know.

    CAMRA has always been a broad church encompassing a whole range of views. I think that is both a great strength and arguably a weakness as it does give ammunition to those, like perhaps the author of this blog, who seek to tar us all with the same brush.

  7. Line yourself up in Henley-on-Thames to try Lovibonds Henley Amber then... Jeff's been making it for years, and a good drop it is too.

  8. "Table Ale" seems to be the nom du jour: brown, strong-flavoured, low-ABV (sometimes <3%), usually keg with prices to match. I don't see it "breaking out" particularly, but I don't think the breweries involved necessarily want it to.

  9. Some beers simply don't work on keg because the flavours are too subtle to survive being served chilled below 8-10 degrees: mild and bitter are two amongst them.