Real ale, canned?

Last week CAMRA gave the thumbs up to the first ever canned real ale, allowing Bristol’s Moor Beer to use the ‘CAMRA says this is real ale’ logo on their canned beers.

Tests were made on the the canned beers during GBBF and it was found that there was indeed live yeast which had produced the carbonation present in the Moor Beer cans. At this stage I’m unsure exactly how they have achieved this, but it does seem that Moor Beer’s micro-canning process has taken real ale to the next level. Reading Moor Beer’s website, it seems as far back as October 2105, they were claiming to have managed to get sufficient yeast in their canned beer to achieve a secondary fermentation, without the presence of any noticeable sediment.

If I’m honest, I like cans. They’re portable, they stack better in the fridge, they don’t smash on a hard floor when you drop one, and I quite like drinking out of a can, something I wouldn’t say about a bottle. Indeed the Crown Beverage designed 360 cans, where virtually the entire top of the can comes off, actually function as a glass and let the aroma out without decanting the beer. There’s also the argument about keeping light out and keeping the beer fresh; a valid one I would say. Cans are also lighter to transport and fully recyclable, providing that our local authorities actually do recycle all our sorted waste; that’s an entirely different argument altogether though.

I’ll shoot the elephant in the room now – do I think that this new system will threaten sales of real cask ale in pubs? No, I don’t, but I think it will serve to further bust some of the myths and prejudices currently running between real ale and, if you must call it that, craft beer; blurring the boundaries if you like. I also think there’s a definite market for the booming bottle shop and online trade where people are purchasing beers to drink and enjoy at home. The thing is, drinking at home just isn’t the same as drinking in a pub for me, but different isn’t wrong.

I was really heartened to read CAMRA’s press release, which I thought, was very progressive. I will quote part of Colin Valentine’s sound bite in the CAMRA press release, ‘I’m delighted that we’ve been able to show that “micro-canned” beer under the right circumstances can qualify as real ale, which means that more drinkers can get access to what we believe is the pinnacle of brewing skill – live beer which continues to ferment and develop in whichever container it’s served from.’

If the CAMRA national chairman is saying this, then there appears to be some real forward thinking going on that might just take CAMRA forward into the 21st century. Granted the forward thinking is on the part of Moor Beer, but CAMRA are positively embracing it.

Before I pass final judgement, I’d like to try a few cans. From past experience, I know Moor Beer make some very fine ales, and I’ve never been disappointed. Similarly, one of my local favourites, Northern Monk have been canning their beers for a while, there’s some in my fridge now, and I very much like them, even though they do not qualify as real ales. On that basis, real ale in a can from a progressive brewer sounds like a winner to me.

I guess there will be some die hards out there who will be reeling at the whole concept of this. We all know who they are, the ones who still haven’t got over key-kegs. Thing is, beer congregates in a very broad church, which should have room for everyone. Sometimes you’ve got to move on a bit.

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4 thoughts on “Real ale, canned?

  1. You mention drinking directly out of a can or bottle. I have read that pouring correctly into a glass allows the beer to finish. Is this a myth? In addition, directly from the container puts more gas into your body, something I certainly do not need!

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    • Generally, I would advocate pouring from the bottle into an appropriate glass, the one that works best for me currently is a third pint stemmed tulip. I’m not a fan of drinking from the bottle, especially not a traditional bottled conditioned ale. I’m happy to drink from the can, especially with mass produced blonde continental style beers (Lager) but never with traditional styled, mass produced, English style beers. They have never managed to achieve the quality that the current wave of brewers like Moor Beer are achieving. I worry not about the carbonation, my body can cope with this, I do however monitor my alcohol intake as over consumption could have deleterious effects.

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