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Beer Industry Craft Beer Jolly Good Beer

On The Road To Coldchain

 

In my 2018 wrap-up “State of the Jolly Good Nation” post I briefly touched upon the subject of coldchain and stated “I hope that 2019 sees us setting up our first 100% coldchain connections for UK beer.”

 

Well, here we are on the 1st of March 2019 and I’m sat in the passenger seat of our 7 tonne refrigerated Iveco with Rik driving us from Cambridgeshire (home) to Loka Polly brewery in North Wales. We will be collecting about two tonnes of their newly launching “Augment” range in keg and can to take from their own coldstorage to our coldstorage … 4°C all the way! We will then ensure selected venues (those with 4°C coldstorage) we will be covered by refrigerated vehicle deliveries too. Folks participating in the Augment launch at this quality level are: The Stoneworks, Peterborough – Hopmaster General, Rushden – Kilder Bar, Birmingham (plus many other great bars who will be getting this beer super fresh and chilled for most of its short lifespan until the 8th!)

 

Brewery @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Bar @ 4°C
Consumer (intah mah mouth!!)

 

And that is coldchain. If you remove one of those “4°C” links and replace it with ambient you no longer have a chain. This is why us at Jolly Good Beer rarely use the phrase “coldchain” because it feels dishonest to be using it without some FULL coldchain implemented from brewer to consumer.

 

With the distinct exception of some higher standards for established cask ale distribution, most wholesaler distributed UK beer moves around the UK as follows… and I gratuitously throw in the word “craft” now mainly to draw a distinction between traditional pubs and the new wave of beer retail…

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ ambient
Warehouse @ ambient
Transport @ ambient
“Craft” Retailer @ ambient (10°C if lucky)
Consumer (nah, I’ll pass)

 

In 2014 I started Jolly Good Beer and we did this:

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ ambient
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ ambient
Craft” Retailer @ ambient (10°C if lucky)
Consumer (umm…? Yeh, OK, go on then)

 

I’m not sure if we were the first to be fully coldstored or not (for all beer not just cask!) – but we were possibly the first to go to 4C and first to really start thinking about real coldchain distro. From this base we’re building up a set of customers who fix the problem at the retail end too, giving us this:

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ ambient
⇒ Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ ambient
Craft Retailer @ 4°C (wot cares)
Consumer (yeh, this is good)

 

Direct Draw install in Kilder Bar coldroom

Amongst Jolly Good Beer customers these 4°C beer heroes are: The Stoneworks, Hopmaster General, Kilder Bar, The Rusty Bucket, Double Barreled Brewery Tap – and we have more in the works as new bar and bar improvement projects line up for 2019.

 

It’s worth noting that good traditional pubs have reliable ~10°C chilled cellars and this is also pretty great for beer on the assumption that sensible pubs are buying for at most the next fortnight of supply and not keeping stock stashed at 10°C for weeks on end. (Flash coolers and long draw are another problem entirely.) It’s really only with the advent of “craft beer” that this weird low quality make-do standard of kegs sat in ambient spaces and flash cooled for dispense started to become a thing regularly seen. Meanwhile the standard for off-trade is nearly entirely warm beer on warm shelves… albeit slowly the “store cold” message is spreading and at least some shops are deploying refrigeration for stock of the more sensitive beers… but very few are like Hereford Beer House who keep all their stock and back-stock refrigerated. Bear that in mind: you see stock in fridges, hurrah, but how is the “back room” stock being kept?

 

But the take-home (beer) here is: coldstorage at retail (both off- and on-trade) is slowly becoming “a thing” and we must celebrate these folk working to make beer better, not merely running with the grim “it’ll do” status quo. And Jolly Good Beer wants to create the supply chain to match. (Literal quote, I was once told: “But nobody else is doing this, I don’t see any point in bothering” – from a person who doesn’t really like beer at all but thought the “craft beer” sector was the cash-cow they wanted to yoke.)

 

In recent years we have seen some improvements in the import side of the industry – in our case notably for Amundsen, Stillwwater, and Against the Grain the good people at Cask International set up the supply chain to our warehouse at 4°C. Hurrah! And the same for our direct import shipment from Firestone Walker. It seems a bit mad we’re getting foreign beer delivered to warehouse at higher standards than UK breweries use! So for selected imports and selected bars in 2018 we got to:

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ 4°C
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ ambient
Retailer @ 4°C
Consumer (yeh, this is good)

 

But this is a tiny fraction of what we do – why doesn’t the UK beer get the frigid love?

 

Anyway – come end of 2018 in our small Jolly Good Beer world to bars “doing it right” we had just these pesky vehicle links to deal with. Not so much a problem in mid-winter, but realistically that’s maybe 2 months of not-so-much-of-a-problem and almost no weeks at all where temperatures actually drop to an average of 4°C or below. And this week we had “record” February warmth… not feeling so chilled now, eh? The worst vehicle link is that one to us from the brewery – where if you’re lucky a PM pallet arrives AM the next day within about 18 hours. But often it arrives more like 24 hours later in the arvo. And in the worst cases something goes wrong (one in ten sorta thing) and it doesn’t arrive until the next day and the pallet has been who-knows-where in transit for 48 hours and arrives warm to the touch. Even in the ideal case of a 12 hour next-day I’ve measured beer shipped from brewery coldstore arriving in smallpack (the most sensitive format) at around 20C in summer.

 

So the next goal of Jolly Good Beer was to fix that transport link and about 9 months ago I applied for my Operators License so I could acquire my first HGV. This week after a complicated 9 month gestation I have given birth to a coldchain by way of our refrigerated 7 tonne Iveco van. We’ve done two outgoing runs with this van – thus solving the least-damage “last mile” problem of the coldchain, but until we have beer arriving chilled we don’t have a chain! Thus today Rik and I find ourselves enroute to North Wales and Loka Polly and our first full coldchain product going to consumers via excellent retailers. It’s just a small start… and a special case of a product/range launch… but over the next few weeks we will be sorting out regular coldchain backhaul routes to key breweries who run by our own coldstorage standards internally and brew the most sensitive beers. Over the course of 2019 we’ll be phasing out all ambient vehicles and moving everything to refrigerated. (Finance offers invited, lol.) We’re connecting the dots – where the dots are our coldstorage and existing brewery and bar coldstorage, and the lines are refrigerated vehicles.

 

THIS IS COLDCHAIN

 

Brewery @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Bar @ 4°C
Consumer (intah mah mouth!!)

 

It can be the difference between merely “good” beer and outstanding beer — between the “good enough” status quo and being top-of-the game. Especially when it comes to modern hop-forward beer styles.

 

So – see y’all at Stoneworks on the 8th (my nearest Coldchain-Ready bar) – or in spirit at one of the other awesome Loka Polly Augment Range launch venues.

 

Posted from the passenger seat of our refrigerated Iveco on the way to Wales!

Categories
Craft Beer Technology Training

Keg Beer Pressure in the UK

Cellar Gas System installed for Cloudwater by Jolly Good Beer
Cellar Gas System installed for Cloudwater by Jolly Good Beer

[This post originally written 2015-08-23 … has been refreshed 2018-09-16. Content has been edited without notes sometimes, other times comments have been inserted in [square brackets] or using this grey text colour where I think the historic content counterpoint adds value. Audience note: Jolly Good Beer is a “craft beer” business and as such this content is written for what you could call “craft beer bars” – the concepts are universal, but if any uncertainly exists you should consult with your supplier/brewer/dispense-technician before fiddling with your dispense system. (“Craft” note: we think all types of beer can be “craft” but don’t claim to be able to firmly define “craft” – we mainly use this term to identify a market segment, not a product type.)]

[[A “cleaned up” version of this was published by The Brewers Journal in October 2018.]]

I am heard to say, with increasing frequency [and still regularly]:

The UK is a decade behind the US in keg beer dispense.

Yesterday an American friend of mine responded to this with a scoffing “… at least.” Maybe I should start saying it is decades.

This comes to the fore more and more often lately as I deal with customers who’ve had “craft keg” installs that are, frankly, not fit for purpose. There are multiple factors to this and multiple “WTFs” I’ve seen in installs. But this post will focus on keg pressure.

[I am not a “qualified” cellar-build person. I’ve pondered doing the course but I gather it is basically just a how-to-plug-the-bits-together, that’ll be £1000 please, here-have-a-certificate. Update 2018-09-16]  I am a “qualified” cellar technician as much as any such thing exists in the UK – having done the NCCSIM, but prior to that this article was written on the basis of a hell of a lot of research & reading, building bars, getting many varied keg beers pouring, and – probably most important – a sufficient background in physics. (I’m not talking physics major or anything, but I studied some physics through to university level and gas behaviours, flow, dissolvability, etc, are all fundamentals.) I’ve spoken to qualified cellar installers and, so far, not met one who knows anything about vols of dissolved CO₂ in beer [I have since met some who do understand this stuff… they are out there]. I guess you don’t need it if you’re always setting up to serve unchanging Foster’s et al in a 12°C cellar to standard parameters. (Cellar/keg temperature is another issue… deserving of a large post of its own.)

Everything changes drastically when it comes to “craft beer”. It’s not all just pasteurised lager with a “standard” 2.2 vol CO₂ [What is a “vol CO₂”? (PDF)]   – suitable for a one-size-fits-all sort of configuration. It is *part* of the definition of some beer styles that they are at certain carbonation levels, and your top-pressure should be set accordingly. And then there’s KeyKegs, another ballpark – another game – entirely. If you have just one “craft” line for keg you’ll probably find yourself switching between KeyKegs and top-pressure kegs. (One reason many UK craft brewers are keen on KeyKegs is that it is less likely that crap cellar installs will cause their beer to be served under- or over-carbonated, KeyKeg basically eliminates one piece of fine-tuning at the pub end of things so it easier to support as well as eliminating an often overlooked infection vector from the beer. [Three years later and KeyKegs are becoming less popular due to increased costs and worries about their environmental credentials.])

What this boils down to is: every beer line should have a dedicated secondary regulator, and every secondary regulator should have a pressure gauge on it. (And the primary should have an out-side gauge allowing a safe maximum line pressure to be set (<50 PSI, <45 for Pet*cough*crap*cough*ainers) – albeit this can be set once at install and the gauge not needed. But the gauges aren’t an expensive upgrade and it is a useful bit of info when debugging cellar issues if you don’t have a pressure checking gauge handy.) Gauges should be checked for accuracy at install and about once per year. (Officially I think this is every 5 years, my experience now is many gauges in use are pretty fragile.)There is an alternative to this and that is to have a calibrated reference gauge (usually glycerine filled and with a rubber protective casing) that can be used to verify the pressure on a line, it is a bit less convenient than simply having trusted gauges on the dispense system though.

To add some credibility I’ll point you somewhere else at this juncture, go have a look at what Magic Rock, one of the UK’s top modern breweries, have to say about KeyKeg dispense: KeyKegs, differences & dispense issues…

But – what happens when you want to follow Magic Rock’s advice and have no gauges? You’re buggered is what. I’d not touch the thing, as you have no idea what the pressures are you could well take it past the safe limit.

But say you do take the risk and nudge it up a bit. That keg runs out. You want to put a normally carbed top-pressure keg on, you switch couplers, connect up. Over the next 2 days that beer gets increasingly carbonated and the last third basically pours foam. Bugger.

WITHOUT GAUGES YOU PROBABLY SHOULD NOT TOUCH REGULATORS.
(Or buy yourself a reference gauge.)

Jolly Good Beer wall
[Ye Olde] Jolly Good Beer wall
[All regulation-compliant UK dispense systems should be limited to 45 PSI for CO2 and 60/40 so it shouldn’t be possible to go higher, but I have also seen systems without these limits and “nitro” gas systems can go higher.]

Folk in the US with these “Flux Capacitor” setups aren’t spending all their money for shits and giggles. The kit on display is normally in the cellar/coldroom – putting it on display is a bit of marketing really – but the reasoning behind it is to highlight that these things are actually important & the bar takes it seriously. Albeit it does concern me a little, pressures should not need fiddling with – pressure should be set suitably for beer being plugged into the line and then that stays the same until you’re done. I think that functionally the kit is better off in the coldroom. But hey, it makes a good talking-point. This inspired me to put regulators on the front of my own mobile bar. (Although there are other good practical reasons for that, the front of the bar is easy to get to compared to the back through a stack of kegs and tangle of lines.) [I have since implemented a flux-capacitor-like system which is much less pretty and more utilitarian for Cloudwater’s dispense system in Manchester and soon also London.]

Shiny new "craft keg" install... wot?! No gauges?!
Shiny new “craft keg” install… wot?! No gauges?!

In this calendar year I’ve come across 5, *FIVE*, new keg installs that had no pressure gauges on the regulators. THREE of these were done after I told the folk getting the installs to ensure they had pressure gauges on their regulators. In the most recent case I was multiply-insistent. But on the day these professionals were adamant this was not needed… and in the end: no gauges. One of the 1st kegs put on the system was a KeyKeg, which was triggering the fob detector, and needed the pressure increased. Yet these professionals told the customer that my advice to them was wrong, that I didn’t know what I was talking about. (Oh, and this setup has kegs at ambient temp… *grumble* … but this means even more need for pressure adjustments! More chance of fobbing.) [This was in 2015 – things have improved a tiny bit since thanks to the “craft beer” sector slowly being schooled in how to do dispense, but it’s still pretty bad out there.]

So… in an attempt to basically explain that [some of the] the professionals don’t have a sodding clue: here are some guidelines for the different kegs out there…

KEYKEG (and other bag-in-container type pressurised kegs)KeyKegFlowChart

The great thing about KeyKeg is you cannot screw up the carbonation of the beer with top-pressure. Hell, you can use compressed air and save on the cost of food grade CO₂. (It’s up to the brewery to screw up carbonation, it does happen, too often… usually to the over-carbonated side… in which case KeyKegs can be vented.)

I can offer no better advice on KeyKeg to what Magic Rock have published. So pop along to their website to get the low-down on this topic.

The only addition I would make is that at UK cellar temperature (10-12C) I tend to run KeyKeg at 35 PSI by default, and this works in almost all cases. If needed I will increase pressure up to 45 PSI. If you need more than 45 PSI then your beer is either over-carbonated or the keg is too warm.

TOP PRESSURE KEGS

Top-pressure kegs
Top-pressure kegs

This is where the real problem with some of these keg installs lies.

In light of hitting issues so frequently I have derived my own CO₂ pressure chart. As you do. De-rusting some of the old physics in my head in the process… the key differences between this and most other charts I can find are a) it is in Celsius and b) goes above 10°C… given UK cellars are often at 12°C this is somewhat essential. (Oh, and ambient temperature kegs at events, ah good old craft beer events, they’re another ballgame entirely.)

The 12°C cellar makes us in the UK a bit of an outlier really, here’s guidelines for cellaring Schneider Weisse: Draught Beer Guide – note that their pressure chart maxes out at 7.5°C… well, if you want to set the correct pressure for Schneider Weisse in a UK cellar look up 12°C against 3.5 vol CO₂ here:

CO₂ Top-Pressure Chart for UK Cellars & Event Bars
CO₂ Top-Pressure Chart for UK Cellars & Event Bars [PDF]

But wait, there’s more! There is stuff all information online regarding mixed gas. The prevalent use of 60/40 mixed gas in the UK is what I call “the great beer flattener” – systems seem often configured just to provide dispense pressure with no mind to carbonation level. You need quite high a pressure to get 60/40 dispense working perfectly for well carbed beers in a 12°C cellar. If you’re using plastic kegs then I would highly recommend against 60/40 gas as most kegs are rated to about 50 PSI and I personally limit them to 45 PSI. Pressurised plastic beer containers have caused injury. This chart was a bugger to derive, all I could find online was an Draught Beer Quality guideline update that is worked out for a maximum temperature of 4.4°C… in the UK? Hah! So I had to get my head around partial pressures to adjust the pressure formula, to give us:

60/40 Top-Pressure Chart for UK Cellars & Event Bars
60/40 Top-Pressure Chart for UK Cellars & Event Bars [PDF]
(Any “peer review” of this would be much appreciated.)

But wait, there’s more… how about some “thirty-seventy” “nitro” action too?

30/70 "nitro" Top-Pressure Chart for UK Cellars & Event Bars
30/70 “nitro” Top-Pressure Chart for UK Cellars & Event Bars

It should be kept in mind that if you smash through kegs in 2 days then carbonation isn’t going to change much and pressure is a lot less of a matter. You could even get by with plain N2 if you’re draining kegs fast enough (NOT RECOMMENDED!) and I’ve heard of some setups using compressed air like at GBBF (REALLY NOT RECOMMENDED!!). However it is my observation that in your typical multi-tap bar kegs can linger on a line for a week or so. This is not ideal… but it makes using correct top-pressure an essential part of the beer quality formula. [Ideally you should be turning over kegs in a maximum of 5 days.]

In the US there is this thing called “Certified Cicerone“, it is sort of an industry qualification. And it isn’t trivial like the UK’s barely-fit-for-purpose BIIAB ABCQ. I’m planning on doing the Cicerone exam when the opportunity arises and understanding pressures is a part of the syllabus [PDF].  (I’m a “Certified Beer Server… but that’s just an online multiple-choice test.) In fact in my opinion one of the best things BrewDog is doing for keg beer in the UK is putting many of their staff through Cicerone training and qualification. (Some of these staff are leaving BrewDog and spreading through the industry – taking their knowledge with them, this is great for everyone.)

The DraughtQuality.org website – a resource created by the US Brewers Association – is also a mine of technical information. (And key to the Cicerone syllabus.) This PDF for example is a much better overview of carbonation than my own ramblings: Understanding Dispense Gas [PDF]

Have I presented enough evidence to make it clear why being able to set the pressure level of your gas is essential if you want to serve different & varied keg beers through a beer line?

If not… what do you think. Why not?


Jolly Good Beer – putting the science in dispense!

Or maybe: Jolly Good Beer – putting the SENSE in dispense! 😉

#1: Do not exceed rated keg pressures…

 


Some useful external resources from the Brewers Association:

Categories
Beer Academy Beer Industry CAMRA Craft Beer Hasty Ranting Jolly Good Beer Politics

Objective Definition of Craft Beer

Don’t try to define craft beer, that way madness lies… [Added 3/8/15 21:41: Please don’t read this as me insisting there ought to be some sort of an enforced definition… nor that I think I am laying down a One True Definition of Craft… it’s just a thought exercise. I do still think the concept is worth pondering.]

But hey, everyone seems to be defining craft beer again. I decided to give it a ponder, to flog the dead horse per se. Nowt better than a well flogged equine corpse. (I clearly don’t have enough to do… like accounting, inventory, and sales for example.)

The problem is nearly every definition goes into some wishy washy non-measurable territory about “quality” and ethos. This isn’t going to work… after significant thought (5 minutes, but on the back of several-years worth of feedback loop), here’s what I boil it down to from my own personal perspective. This is _my_ best attempt at a definition of “craft beer”, it gels with a lot of others, even BrewDog’s, but brings in stricter ownership rules and discards what I see as unnecessary minutiae & subjectivity.

  1. Brewery is “privately” owned and controlled.
    This is about being in control of creative direction, not being answerable to shareholders and investors. Freedom. Being an exchange listed company _definitely_ rules you out of the “craft beer club” (which, to my pleasure, takes Greene King out of the definition, huzzah!). Collective employee ownership is OK however – that’s about as craft as you can get I reckon. You can buy a brewery and have it still be craft too, so I’m not tying this down to founder-owned. Look at breweries like Moor, for example. [Disclosure: I sell Moor beer. It is awesome.] I’ll allow breweries owned by rich benefactors as well, so long as they have entire ownership of the brewery, so I’m not tying it down to brewer-owned either. If the owner(s) build it up, and sell it to Molson Coors… craft status stripped. Harsh perhaps, the beer probably won’t change in the short run (it will almost certainly change in the long run). But I believe craft is about more than the liquid in the glass.
  2. Investment companies / investors own, collectively, no more than 10%
    I think equity-investment in brewing is fine, see “rich benefactor” above, but a large corporate or institutional investor pretty much says one thing to me: where’s the exit strategy? It isn’t quite universal, perhaps, but it is nearly always the case that investment means travelling a path towards a destination of either sell-out-high or get-listed. Cash-in, cha-ching… that’s not craft. On the other hand, making lots of money by building a mega-successful brewery is perfectly OK. It’s “selling out” that I don’t believe is craft, unless the “sell out” is privately to a private owner in which case there’s room for the operation to remain “craft”.
  3. IMG_20150802_163304Beer clearly states origin and name of origin brewery.
    Origin fudging is not craft. I won’t budge on this one. Being shy about your production is not craft. If you’re embarrassed about how & where your beer is produced: it is not craft. I’ve no problems with cuckoo or contract brewing so long as it is done honestly – Yeastie Boys are an example of honest (and worthwhile) contract brewing. [Disclosure: Yes, I sell their beer. Because I love the beers.]
  4. Beer lists all ingredients.
    At a minimum top level ingredients, including brewing essentials such as yeast – so a list such as: Barley Malt, Flaked Wheat, Hops, Yeast, Blood Oranges, Otters’ Tears. I don’t really understand why this isn’t more normal, in my opinion it ought to be a legal requirement. But failing that – brewers should just naturally choose to do this! If you’re not proud of your ingredients, not ashamed to admit what goes into the beer, than you’re not craft as far as I’m concerned. I’m not saying brewers should give out the recipes to their beers – I am saying every beer should say what is in the bottle. And I want more than most here, as much as is practical. Malt types, hop varieties, yeast strain (and “our house yeast” is fine here). Whether isinglass is used at any stage too. Ideally this should be on the bottle, it can’t practically be presented for keg/cask – and sometimes hops have to change, often recipes evolve, but that’s what websites are for: 8 Wired, Hopwired [Disclosure: Hey, I happen to sell this stuff too.]
  5. Brewery meets a (to be determined) set of basic standards.
    This one needs some work. But, basically, I would lay down a set of minimum standards in addition to the core points above… I don’t think it is good to be too specific, like ruling out use of certain adjuncts, or brewing processes, etc. But there are some basics that are simple to audit. Some rough initial ideas: pays at least living wage (quality of people, I don’t think living wage is perfect but it is a start), invests in cold-storage (quality of beer), deals with wholesalers who invest in cold-storage (self-interest afoot here! But I believe *strongly* in improving supply chain in this direction – and the same applies for exporters and foreign distributors), educates employed brewing staff (owner-brewers excepted perhaps?), does not package beer in clear glass (personal enraged bugbear!) … what else? (All subject to debate…) [I’m, astonishingly, changing my mind on pasteurisation just a little, there are circumstances where I can accept it is not a compromise. Late additions of maple syrup, for example… how’s that for a subject for a “craft debate”?]

What, nothing about about size? Production volume? Etc… I think the US has shown that measuring craft by brewery size doesn’t work very well.

It may not quite be perfect… but it is “craft” as I see it, as much as I can pin it down within my own mind. Plenty of breweries I think are a bit crap fit within the definition, but defining craft beer can’t be about what I do and don’t like and it needs to be objective if it is to work at all. I use the word and if I’m to continue to use the word I ought to be able to outline what I mean when I use it… that’s one of the points of this post.

I’ve an ulterior motive in all this of course. Because I think, if done right, this can be used as a mechanism to drive change and improve quality in the UK beer industry. A proper craft beer representative body can pick up where SIBA fails to deliver, and bridge the gap to where the Beer Academy doesn’t quite seem to have the grunt to execute.

If there is to be a wider crystallisation of a concept of craft then mere definition is not enough… it needs an organisation behind it to work. Sometimes there are grey areas and a committee, perhaps, needs to make a ruling. For a definition to work lines do need to be drawn. And the organisation doing this needs to really stand up for the ethos behind craft beer… creativity and independence, and striving for quality. (We can’t make quality part of the definition, but an organisation can support and encourage it.)

This should be a membership based organisation like SIBA, where all breweries that meet the definition can join for a fairly low fee. (£250?) [But you don’t have to be a member to _be_ a craft brewer!] Major decisions are made on an open democratic basis – we have the technology to achieve this quite simply. The purpose of the organisation is to manage the membership, manage the definition, promote the concept of craft beer, and – importantly – make an attempt at defining best practice. Work to improve and modernise the world of great beer in the UK, which will be of benefit to everyone in the chain from farmer to drinker.

In the UK we’ve a lot to do to improve the pint of beer that ends up in the glass. SIBA isn’t doing it (but it does help), the Beer Academy isn’t doing it (but it does help), CAMRA isn’t doing it (and may actually have become a barrier to good quality).

Finally – “craft beer” should try hard not to look down on “not craft beer”. We’ll all have our own personal prejudices which we won’t give up (*cough*GreenKing*cough*). But we have to accept that some multinationals do make a high quality product, and sometimes it even happens to be rather tasty.

This has been a craft community broadcast brought to you by the vested-interest department… and I may very well change my mind tomorrow. Or after I’ve had a beer.


P.S. In all of this I think it is well worth being aware that craft is not necessarily equal to “good”, and non-craft is definitely not equal to “bad”. Good and bad are subjective and undefinable, there is debate even around identifiable brewing/beer flaws. Craft is not equal to “better” – but it will _usually_ be more interesting than the alternative thanks to the creativity and flexibility of the style of operation I think my above points encompass. Cases in point are to look at Greene King’s efforts at “craft”, and Marston’s “Revisionist” beers… which for the most part I don’t think are _bad_ beers, but they’re clearly contained and restrained beers… yet are the most “adventurous” beers breweries of this scale and shareholder-value maximising sensibilities will produce. (You can still brew really dull beer within the points of my attempt at a definition above, of course.)