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CAMRA Eastern Region

Cask Breather Trial

6th - 8th December 1999

The Rose and Crown, Histon

(Originally scheduled for The Plough, Duxford, 6-8 September 1999)

At the summer regional meeting it was agreed to run yet another tasting trial to try to resolve the matter of cask breathers - to what extent they alter beer flavour. Our Regional Director, Paul Ainsworth, has organised the following.

Participation involves a blind tasting of Everards beers lasting about 40 minutes, commencing at 6pm. Ideally one should attend on each evening.

Please contact Paul for further information.

The argument

Paul writes...

Proponents of the cask breather claim it does not adversely affect the taste of the beer even after it has been in position for several days, i.e. it can extend the "shelf life" of real ale without affecting its quality.

What the trials will do is to compare beer server "au naturel" which has been vented 3 days previously (i.e. it should be in the peak of condition) with beer which has been sat on a breather for 8, 9 and 10 days (i.e. long after a beer without any applied gas would have gone off).

Tasters will then be given samples (blind) of both beers and asked:

The whole purpose of the exercise is to put the debate about cask breather usage on an informed basis by conducting trials which will yield hard evidence. At the end of the day, the only important question is
"does the breather spoil the taste of real ale?"

These trials should help us answer the question.

Similar trials are to be held in Bury St Edmunds (using GK beer), Peterborough (using Elgoods beer) and Bedford (using Wells beer). Also South Herts branch have voted 150 to enable an entirely independent trial to be run at The Plough, Duxford (organised by Bob Moss). [Subsequently moved to The Hare & Hounds, Harlton.]

Afterword: the result

The trials proved that even experienced beer-tasters could not tell the difference.

Cambridge & District CAMRA : cask breather in the Back to Basics series.