It can take months to brew a good cask of beer. And real ale, that is traditionally brewed and allowed to mature naturally in the barrel needs to be looked after in the same way you would expect to care for a fine wine. The live yeast will continue to condition the beer, enriching the flavours and character right up until the moment when it’s poured into your glass.
So why does a pint sometimes smell of rotten egg?
However great the beer is, it can be spoilt during its journey from cask to glass as a result of poorly cleaned beer lines.
Those beer lines can harbour bacteria that make your beer cloudy and taste of vinegar, smell faintly of rotten eggs or buttery butterscotch. Whilst these probably won’t cause you any harm they will taint the taste of a good pint.
The inner surface of the beer lines is prone to bacterial attachment and accumulation. Once those pesky microbes get going they secrete extra cellular polymers such as polysaccharides and glycoproteins creating bio-films where they can thrive more happily.
And ‘beer stones’ can accumulate too. Calcium contained in the grains and water used in the brew can combine with the oxalic acids or salts present in the hops to produce deposits of calcium oxalate. These ‘beer stones’ can build up and flake off, adding little brown or grey flakes to your pint. Not harmful – but not desirable either!
Whilst most bars make sure the areas on show to their customers are clean and welcoming it’s careful and regular cleaning of the beer lines that ensures your pint is perfect.
Conrad Boucher, General Manager of Beer Piper, the UK’s longest established provider of automated beer line cleaning systems, commented: ‘ Bacteria can flourish if beer lines are not cleaned efficiently which has an immediate effect on the taste and quality of the beer. Using an automated system takes away the chore of a weekly manual clean and keeps the lines ‘bug free’.’
He added, ‘Beer lines can and should be cleaned regularly and use of an automated system allows this to be carried out quickly and conveniently during opening hours with no wastage. We try and encourage the philosophy that good beer should be treated with respect.’
For more information on The Beer Piper Company visit www.beerpiper.co.uk or call 01444 470220.
19th Sept 2012
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