Five head brewers and the author of the Good Bottle Beer Guide have delivered a wildly effervescent session at The White Horse on Parson’s Green on the past and future of bottle (and can) conditioned beer.
John Keeling of Fuller’s; Stuart Cail of Harviestoun; Pat McGinty of Marston’s; Justin Hawke of Moor Beer and Roger Ryman of St Austell joined author Jeff Evans to give their individual interpretations on beers’ conditioning, and the effects of oxygen on beer.
Stuart Cail of Harviestoun in Clackmannanshire showcased his Schiehallion bottle-conditioned lager and his barrel aged Ola Dubh, both served in 75cl bottles. Pat McGinty of Marston’s, owners of the Burton Union system, showcased Pedigree, which was converted to bottle-conditioned format in 2016 for the first time in its 70-year history. Justin Hawke of Moor Beer of Bristol sampled three can-conditioned beers and talked “real ale” in can, cask, keg & bottle. Roger Ryman of St Austell assessed the complexity of character of his bottle-conditioned Proper Job and of his Bad Habit Abbey Tripel. And the retiring (but not on the night) John Keeling of Fuller’s spoke on the recipes and sales appeal of Vintage ales, with a sampling of the brewery’s 2010 and 2017 vintages.
In 1971, when the Campaign for Real Ale was formed, there were just 5 bottle conditioned beers in Britain: Courage Imperial Russian Stout; William Worthington’s White Shield; George Gale’s Prize Old Ale; Thomas Hardy Ale, and Guinness Extra Stout.
Since then, according to Jeff Evans, numbers of bottle conditioned ales here in Britain have risen from that initial five to 177 in 1998, 778 in 2006, 1847 by 2013, and over 2000 now.
Elliot Allison, who put together the industry evening on behalf of Marston’s Brewery, commented:
“Whilst so many brewers and beer lovers are talking hops, or the differences between one cereal and another, too often brewers or beer’s marketers are forgetting that greatest of all magicians, the yeast – and the effects of oxygen, temperature and ageing on its wellbeing.”
“So, my thanks to these great brewers and to Jeff Evans for their voluminous knowledge of the ‘conditioning’ of beer. ‘Conditioning’ of beer is massively important and yet we seem to take it for granted that the general public know what it is, or the benefits in flavour and complexity it can bring. When we re-launched Pedigree as bottle-conditioned in 2016, we found this was not the case. There is a big education job to be done; and we hope that today will see the start of a movement by like-minded brewers to punch our message home.”
“As John Keeling rightly said, bottle-conditioned beers are not some poor relation of cask. They are fascinating, complex and evolving, as demonstrated by the 1869, 1977, 1978, 1982 and 2002 vintages from Burton on Trent which our guests had the opportunity to sample.
“A Bottle (and can!) Conditioned Beer Week is called for; and we aim to work with interested parties to choose a date, maybe in October after Cask Ale Week, and an activity schedule for 2019. This week will bring aboard the brewers, the buyers and the drinkers of beer to inspire the creation of new bottle conditioned beers, and to build their reputation and distribution. As a collective, we will aim to bring bottle conditioned beer back to the forefront of the national zeitgeist.”
Speakers covered the following ‘bottle-conditioned’ topics:
- Its history – from 1821 when Henry Ricketts developed a split mould to produce glass bottles;
- Its future – post Louis Pasteur’s pasteurisation techniques of 1862;
- Its meteoric rise – from a mere five in 1971 when CAMRA was formed;
- Its comprehension by consumers;
- Its storage and ageing potential;
- Its best pouring technique – historically;
- Its effect on barley or hops;
- Its availability in flavoural effects on different beer styles;
- Its flavour comparison with cask;
- Its potential with foods;
- Its spread across the world;
- Its pricing;
- Its potential.
Further information: Emanuele Barrasso, firstname.lastname@example.org