ALE November 1998 No. 292

Cask Marque

"The Cask Marque" in ALE 290 introduced this beer quality initiative from Adnams and other brewers. So far in the pilot stage about 250 landlords have been awarded the Marque, one of the most recent being Pete Gray at the Live & Let Live [see The Live Lives Again!]. Other local winners have been Chris Lloyd (The Free Press, Prospect Row), Douglas Robb (The Grapes, Histon Rd.) and Joe Pattison (The White Swan, Connington). CAMRA broadly supports the scheme, being a genuine attempt to improve real ale quality and consistency. A national launch of the scheme is due on November 21st along with the inevitable Web site.

The Marque guidelines are very straightforward - they just codify normal best practice in cellarmanship. Each candidate is surveyed twice in three months and after the award follow-up visits are made to ensure consistency. However there are problems with one aspect. It is recommended that cellar coolers are set at 54F and that beer is served at a maximum of 60F. This certainly aids consistency and may be appropriate in the height of summer but many people find that this results in unpleasantly chill beer at other times (e.g. as sometimes found in The Hogshead). Failure to meet these temperatures is the most common reason for failing to pass a survey.

Pete for one is well aware of this and will adjust settings accordingly. He reports that they've now revised the limit to 61F (which surprisingly makes a significant difference).

Scottish Courage have decided to trial Cask Marque in Bristol, leaving Bass as the only big brewer ignoring the scheme.

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Cambridge & District CAMRA