British beer writer Pete Brown was, until 2015, the author of The Cask Report, a yearly analysis of the state of the business of cask ale in the U.K., sponsored by the British brewing community. Here’s Pete Brown, today in 2017, in an essay entitled, “Why it’s time to say no to cask ale,” published in the Morning Advertiser:
I have a terrible confession to make — terrible for someone with my CV anyway. I've mostly stopped drinking cask ale. [...] I've had enough of :
We're always saying cask ale is special, unique, a cut above other beer, that it requires more care and attention. If you're not prepared to treat it like that, you're not supporting cask ale - you're wrecking it. [...] Do yourself, your customers, and cask ale brewers a favour and stop selling it.
- Bar staff saying 'it seems all right to me,' or 'well, no one else has complained,' when I take a pint back to the bar and patiently explain that it's laced with diacetyl.
- Being told that the beer is supposed to be flat and dead because that's what real ale is like.
- Taking back hazy pints and being told it's supposed to be like that because it's craft beer.
- Pints that are not off, or infected, or hazy, but just dull and sub-par, whether because the beer is tired or because it's not finished its cellar conditioning and shouldn't be on sale.
For Pete Brown, of all people, a partisan of cask ale, to confess, “I’ve mostly stopped drinking cask ale,” is a disconsolate and shocking thing indeed.
And, I’m afraid that I’m 90% there with Mr. Brown when it comes to cask ale in the U.S.
Here's my bill of particulars. When, instead of producing cask-conditioned ale as the freshest and most vibrant it can be,
- American breweries, too often, toss 'shit' into their casks, not because they should, but because they can;
- American breweries, too often, rack unfinished beer into a cask and call it cask-conditioned;
- American ‘craft’ beer bars, too often, toss casks onto a bar and serve them unattended for days;
- When American cask ale, too often, is warm, flat, infected, crud-speckled, amateurishly prepared, and horribly served...