Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beer through a font - the shape of things to come?

The Grove has never been afraid to try to be a little different to other pubs in the town. They have key kegs for one thing, and lots of bottles for another, but this week thy have tried something a little off the wall, even for them.

They have Abbeydale 'Transformation' on the bar. Nothing unusual in that I hear you say. The method of dispense is though. Instead of coming through the usual beer lines, it is served through one of their 'lager' fonts for need of  a better description. In the interests of science I thought I would give it a go and see what the difference was.

Before I go on, I should explain that I don't know the science that actually gets the beer from the cellar to the bar, but the beer was served without the carbonation that goes with lager, and the beer is from a cask, not a keg, so to all intents and purposes it is a cask beer. Onto the beer itself. It is a light, hoppy beer, typical of the Abbeydale stable, their tasting notes say it has a biscuit base, with a generous amount of hops from America, Australia, and New Zealand giving tropical fruit notes and a hint of toffee. What did I find? Well to be perfectly honest, none of these came though. The font dispense means the beer comes through a chiller, making it colder than your average cask beer, and the temperature of the beer seems to kill the subtle flavours there. I could tell it had hops, but would struggle to get any defined flavour from it and the background maltiness that ought to be there was missing. My half was enough, I would not have wanted any more.

So a bit disappointing. It was interesting to try it, but I do not think it worked, and it certainly did not do justice to what sounded like a good beer. Admittedly, I have not tried the beer in its 'proper' cask form yet, so cannot compare it (though it is on the taunting pole at the Star so I will have a chance soon), and to make a true comparison it may have been better to put one of the regular beers through a font. But there again, if you get chance, try it and see what you think.  

I actually managed to get the beer served through a hand pull at the Star yesterday, it did taste different to the font version, the malt and hop flavours, although fairly subtle, did come through and the beer was well balanced. May be if the Grove want to try again, a more hoppy beer may do the trick, possibly one they have regularly so we can contrast with what we are used to. 


Curmudgeon said...

Although you virtually never see it now, at one time a lot of cask beer was served through free-flow electric fonts, especially in the Bass empire. Of course a major disadvantage of that was that, until you drank it, it was impossible to tell it apart from keg.

I have sometimes thought that, in some outlets, serving cask beer through fonts might help it appeal to a demographic that regards handpumps as a sign of something to avoid.

Tyson said...

This isn't actually that new. Many years ago I visited a Robinsons pub that sold cask Unicorn via a defunct Fosters font.

Leigh said...

That's interesting - didnt know that Abbeydale were dipping thier toe into this keg - world. And yes, you've got a great place in The Grove to try it yourself! I had the kegged Black Isle Porter thae last time I was in (around xmas) and it was wonderful.

Timbo said...

Leigh..don't think Abbeydale had much say in the matter, The Grove just decided to use their beer for the trial I believe. It was a normal cask beer, just the method of dispense was different, and imo did not seem to work