Interesting news today that Marston’s have launched a new 4.0% ABV Revisionist Craft Lager, which is to become the first in a new range of “craft keg” beers. The range is to be expanded to include a wheat beer and a saison, will be packaged in smaller 30 litre kegs to ensure freshness, and will be cold conditioned and micro-filtered, but not pasteurised.
For a while, some traditionalists have been painting “craft keg” as some kind of threat to cask beer. While I know it has made inroads in London, and in urban bars outside the capital, I have to say I just haven’t seen this in the regular round of pubs I visit. It hasn’t even made much of an impact in Stockport’s specialist beer pubs.
This move by Marston’s could be seen as an example of it “going mainstream”, but on the other hand it may be more of a case of them trying to get a slice of that particular pie. It’s significant that these beers are not direct equivalents to existing cask beers – they’re styles that you wouldn’t find on cask in the first place.
But it’s certainly true that there is a slow but steady move to see a more interesting range of beers available on keg in a growing number of pubs, with lager leading the way. And I get the impression that craft keg is seen as trendy in a way that something with a sheepdog on the pumpclip is never going to be.
It’s also still the case that a lot of pubs attempt to stock too many cask beers, resulting in inadequate turnover and tired, warm pints. Maybe it would be a good idea for them to replace some of their slower-selling lines with unusual craft kegs which will keep for longer even if the volume isn’t there.