Sunday, 6 March 2011

Clouding the issue

In the most recent poll, I asked the question “Is clarity important in British bitters and pale ales?” There were 54 responses, broken down as follows:

Yes, absolutely: 21 (39%)
To some extent, but I’ll always taste it first: 28 (52%)
Not really: 5 (9%)

Now, I make no apology for falling firmly into the first camp. This can lead to accusations of “drinking with my eyes”, but to my mind it is important that beer appeals to the eyes as well as to the tastebuds. It's generally accepted that you enjoy food more if it’s attractively presented rather than just dumped on the plate, and the same is true of beer. British cask beers, even dark milds, are meant to be crystal clear, and if they’re not, 99 times out of 100 it represents either poor cellarmanship or something inherently wrong with the cask. And, however tolerant enthusiasts may be of haziness, if you’re trying to encourage people to try cask beer it’s a major turn-off.


  1. I ticked the "To some extent" button, but I wouldn't touch the pint you've shown. I'll tolerate a slight haze as long as the taste is unaffcted, but wouldn't drink something that looks like pea soup.

  2. I'm a clarity man too Mudgie. A very slight haze may just about be acceptable, but anything more no.

    British cask beer is brewed to drop bright.

  3. I don't think lack of clarity in cask beer is anything like the problem it used to be. It's many years since I heard someone say "it's real ale, it's meant to be cloudy." However, in some circles there is still an implicit tolerance of cloudiness.

    It's more of an issue with bottle-conditioned beers, really. In my view, if I can't pour it clear, my enjoyment of a beer (assuming it's not a naturally cloudy style) will inevitably be compromised.


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