Specify type of goat

Dave makes an interesting point:

I noticed in The Cask Report the following definition;

“Keg beer:
Beer that has been pasteurized and/or filtered to remove any yeast, before being sealed in a pressurized container.
It is then dispensed with the aide of CO2, nitrogen or a mix of the two to give fizz or ‘smoothflow’ texture.”

Shame the definition is wrong, my keg beer is neither filtered nor pasteurised.

Speaking as a dyed-in-the-wool cask bigot, I’m intrigued by this. My knowledge of brewing is pretty limited, but my understanding of the difference between cask and keg is something like this.

1. At the brewery, magic happens. However, this magic does not result in beer that is ready to drink. It results in beer that is ready to go into a cask and sit there for a while, preferably in a pub cellar.
2. The beer sits in a barrel in a pub cellar. This beer is not an inert substance like the multi-flavoured fizzy water they get out of that hose thing, oh no. This beer is a living thing, maturing, developing and quietly humming to itself in the dark. This is not hyperbole or metaphor; it is not synecdoche or zeugma, for that matter. This beer is a living, breathing, sentient creature, which can be taught to answer its name and complete a simple sudoku. It is truly a wonder of the brewer’s art.
3. But it’s not ready to drink.
4. No, I lied, it’s had long enough now. (Knowing exactly when it’s had long enough is a wonder of the cellarperson’s art.) Now it can be drawn from the cellar through a hand-pump. The fact that it’s in a cask, which has a hole in (I think), has something to do with why you use a hand-pump. The fact that it’s got bubbles in from the yeast doing its living and breathing thing may have something to do with it too. Only you never usually get the actual yeast coming out of the hand-pump, which is because it’s stuck to the bottom of the cask (I think), which is something to do with the beer being ready to drink. It’s all very complicated.

Keg is quite different.
1. At the brewery, magic happens. This magic is allowed to continue to happen until the beer is ready to drink. Larger breweries employ special accelerated magic which does the job in half an hour or so, while spreading a distinctive magical smell throughout the surrounding area. (Actually the smell isn’t magical, and it’s not terribly nice either. But it is distinctive.)
2. The beer that is ready to drink has all its yeast killed, actually killed dead, by a man with a big stick and a very good aim, or possibly by boiling it to death (only without boiling the actual beer presumably, not sure about this). Then it’s cooled down till it’s nearly freezing. Seriously, John Barleycorn had it easy compared with this.
3. The cold flat dead beer is made fizzy again with a very large Sodastream machine, or something like that.
4. The cold dead fizzy beer is put into a tin and dispensed from a tap, not a hand-pump. The fact that it’s in a tin, which doesn’t have a hole in but does have lots of extra CO2 in case the fizz it’s got in already runs out (I think), has something to do with why you get it out of a tap. Probably.

Well, you get the idea. It seems pretty fundamental to keg, at least as I understand it, that the bubbles in the beer have been forcibly introduced to it and that there’s no secondary fermentation going on – indeed, that the beer’s actually been treated to prevent secondary fermentation. Keg beer, dead beer. So if a “keg beer” hasn’t been filtered or pasteurised, what’s the process that made it keg? And (I hate to say this, but if I don’t somebody else will) is that process as objectionable – or even as distinct from cask – as the process that produced the Watney’s of my youth, or the one that produces the Foster’s currently stinking out Moss Side?


  1. Posted 7 June, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    You need to read up about KeyKegs -> http://keykegbeer.keykeg.com/en/

    • Phil
      Posted 7 June, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A keykeg is a collapsible bag inside a pressurised sphere; it delivers a liquid under pressure without the pressurising gas leaking into the liquid. It sounds like an improvement on having the gas right there in the container with the liquid – if that’s what went before, I’m a bit hazy on that part – but what does it have to do with whether the beer in the bag is dead or alive, chilled or cellar temperature, naturally or artificially carbonated, etc?

  2. Posted 8 June, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    “but what does it have to do with whether the beer in the bag is dead or alive, chilled or cellar temperature, naturally or artificially carbonated, etc?”

    Nothing. And stop asking awkward questions.

    • Phil
      Posted 8 June, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      Well, I suppose the whole business of delivering the beer with lots of active yeast in suspension (if that’s what currently happens) and waiting for it to drop out and stick to the container (if that’s what happens next) probably couldn’t be made to work inside a sealed bag. Or could it? When they say that key keg can be used to serve beers that are “unpasteurised and unfiltered” (see e.g.), doesn’t that mean that there is still some yeast in there?

      I’m not being faux-naive here, I’m genuinely ignorant!

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