Sunday 5 May 2013

The Local Beards and Evil Keg

My local CAMRA branch has 930 members, yet the Branch Secretary complains regularly on the website and branch magazine that he sees very few of us. Well....

As you may have seen on the news in recent times, bad things happened in the 1970s. Savile. Hall. Glitter etc. But, apparently, the worst thing that happened in the 1970s was keg beer. Enormous national breweries tried to foist 'tasteless fizzy beer' upon the poor drinker in an effort to make more money. And even though the Big Six breweries barely exist anymore, the industry as a whole has not been forgiven by those who went to pubs back then. The mere mention of kegs will get CAMRA members of a certain age foaming like a pint of Whitbread Trophy.

But whereas 40 years ago, keg was used to dispense brown dishwater bitter, the influence of US craft brewers has meant that UK craft brewers are using them to serve up their fancy expensive IPAs and Imperial stouts.  And, although these beers are undoubtedly  of higher quality that Watney's Red Barrel, the mere sight of the keg font has the beardy end of CAMRA ranting about evil chemical fizz.

And, unfortunately, the committee of my branch tends towards the hirsute.  For any discerning beer drinker under the age of 40, the free CAMRA rag they put out is both hilarious and exasperating. Keg beer, of whatever provenance, is referred to as 'zombeer'. Punk IPA, Schneider Weisse, Tetley Smooth. All the same. All evil. In fact, the craft keg is reckoned to be worse, as the 'thin end of the wedge theory' means its increasing popularity will allow the likes of Heineken to brand John Smith's as "craft". On the other hand, any previous keg-only pub that sticks a hand pump or two on the bar is lauded for giving customers the chance to buy Marston's Pedigree or Thwaites Wainwright. Cask, any cask, is by default better than any keg.

Sadly, the local committee are now confused. The anti-keg motions at the CAMRA AGM were defeated, and the member who stood for the National Committee on a 'death to zombeers' platform was soundly defeated. The next local mag is due out in June. It will make interesting reading. I plan to read it over a BrewDog at the craft place in a nearby town.

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