hist-brewing: flat beer

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Thu Feb 22 07:51:43 PST 2001

Someone posted "you could serve it flat" which is absolutely not the
right way to serve ale of any kind.  It goes back to my explanation of
how finings work.  Cellarmanship is an art.  A cellerman needs to know
each of his/her beers and know the right level of carbonation for each.
These days, the casks come primed from the brewer, but with the use of
soft (porous) and hard spiles, the cellarman conditions (carbonates)
and vents the right amount of CO2 so the finings (sometimes added by
the brewer, sometimes the cellarman) will work.

Back before CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) formed in the 1970's,
probably thanks to the rising popularity of lagers and the waning
popularity of traditionally-served ales, many pubs didn't put much
effort into caring for their real ales.  The art of cellarmanship
that used to be passed on from generation to generation was almost
extinct and beers would often be served either overcarbonated and
cloudy from the yeast or flat because the person tending the casks
didn't understand the importance of balancing the carbonation level
with the action of the finings.

It's no wonder that real ale got the reputation for being warm and
flat, but that's not the way it should be.  I already mentioned that
50-55F is the right temperature range and 1.5 to 2.0 volumes (as high
as possible without impeding the action of the finings) are correct.


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