ALE Spring 1998 No. 290

The Cask Breather - the Definitive Argument

A personal view

The cask breather, as regular readers of this newsletter will be aware, is a device for extending the life of real ale. In doing so, it introduces subtle changes to the characteristics of that beer. The discussion has been prolonged and wide-ranging as to whether this device should warrant the support of CAMRA. Low-turnover country Locals are its biggest supporters.

As a member of the ordinary drinking public, I equate the image of a proper pint, to be enjoyed in a comfortable atmosphere, with the same image that I think CAMRA stands for. In other words, if CAMRA recommends the beer in a certain pub, I feel confident that I can go into that pub, buy my beer and stay to judge it on its merits, hoping to enjoy it. With me so far?

What is it that makes this situation entirely to my taste? After all, it may be that I don't like the flavour of the particular beer on offer. Or there might be some offensive customers in the pub, spoiling everyones enjoyment.

"Nuthin like a bit of aggro, eh Robbie?" said DelBoy

The publican might serve me short measure. The possibilities are endless. But when it works, when the beer is great and the company to my liking and the Landlord friendly, I know that this is the image that I crave. There are no hang-ups. Nothing has happened just for my benefit - it would all be the same if I wasn't there. It is an entirely honest situation, which happens all over Britain; a unique situation where you are free to come and go as you please.

Be Gone All Falsehood

Nothing should be allowed to corrupt this image. It might be that the customers are all paper cut-outs and the Landlord is a puppet, computerised or on a string. But it is unlikely that the people element could be anything other than genuine. It is after all, part of life, not a stage set in a play. Similarly the beer must remain untainted and utterly genuine. CAMRA have fought off all sorts of threats, some blatant, others more subtle and the image remains intact. The dishonest cask breather must not be allowed to corrupt CAMRA's standards.

The honesty and integrity of the whole pub context, as CAMRA stands for it, must remain sacrosanct. People drink to an image. You may identify with the talking horse or perhaps the Irish dancer. If you're reading this, you'll likely identify with the situation described above. It is the CAMRA creed - all falsehood rejected. Be reassured - the Cambridge Branch upholds this belief and always will. Let the country cousins defy us at their peril.

See also: CAMRA Eastern Region: Cask Breather Trial

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