London Murky may well be my favourite beer descriptor of 2013, so well done to Robsterowski who I think can safely be said to have first coined it. I don’t care for murky cask beer myself, though I am a little more inclined to forgive it from bottle. (Well I might be in certain circumstances, but that’s a separate post.) My reasons for my dislike of cloudy cask beer are twofold. OK. Maybe more than twofold, as my mind is racing into three plus reasons. Firstly, to me at least, it doesn’t look right. Secondly, again to me at least, it doesn’t always taste right. This I admit may be in my mind (though not always), as I remain unconvinced that there are more good things than bad things floating around in the gloom. While mostly these are spent yeast cells and proteins, I don’t feel comforted by that, as I don’t care for yeasty tasting beer. There are other by products of the brewing process that can remain in suspension too, such as tannins, starch, oxalic acid and more, that may well account for some of the haze. These are just some of the bad boys.
My third reason is confusion. I have already written about this and would add that there is something else. A fourth reason if you like. There is a temptation, which I think I have seen in action, for bar staff to attribute to any beer which is hazy or cloudy, the phrase “It is meant to look like that.” Now this may be just a guess, or they may be being disingenuous, but it all adds to the confusion. How do I know whether what I am being sold is working beer that hasn’t finished its secondary fermentation, rather than one that is meant to be cloudy? Nor do I know if the brewer is just incompetent. Truth is, I don’t know other than by my taste and experience why it might be cloudy. And I could well be wrong and on dodgy grounds for complaint if I’m not happy. To my mind, this all adds an unwelcome variable to me as a cask beer consumer and one that I didn’t have to take into account before. Before if the beer was cloudy, I took it back. What we are getting now isn’t nearly as straightforward. Of course you can just dismiss me as an old fuddy duddy and say that I should learn to live with it. Well I’m not so sure about that and am minded to do something about it.
The CAMRA AGM isn’t a million miles away and I might just put forward a motion about how this confusion, which I see as (in the main) detrimental to cask beer, should be addressed.
Visual stimuli are very important to beer. Yes we do drink with our eyes. We decide a lot about a beer before we even taste it.