Would you drink a cask beer served at 4°C?

Or more to the point, would you stock one?

Not being a licensee, I can only answer the first one of those questions, and the answer from me is a yes.

Wainwright is the latest beer brand to branch out to a chilled version.

Marston's, the brewery behind the brewery (Thwaites) behind the brand, launched Altitude on the banks of the Thames as part of Wainwright's wider sponsorship of the Boat Race last weekend.

The fact that the day itself was fairly grey and bleak may not have been the perfect scenario for an almost icy pint, but judging by what I saw with my own eyes, plenty of people still went for the cooler cask. It will be launched more widely in Marston's pubs later in the spring.

There has been a movement in the cool cask direction with Molson Coors trialling an Extra Chilled version of Doom Bar and Robinson's following suit with Chilled Dizzy, a colder version of its flagship brew Dizzy Blonde.

It follows on from last year's Cask Report (disclosure, I edited the report) which included stats showing that cask beer is frequently served above the recommended temperature of between 11-13°C. On top of that, two-thirds of cask drinkers would prefer it was served cooler at any rate.

While Chilled Dizzy and Doom Bar Extra Chilled should arrive in your glass at a cool and refreshing 8°C. Altitude goes quite a bit further with a serving temperature of just 4°C.

To give it some context, Extra Cold beers are served (or should be served) between 2 and 5°C. Standard lagers, generally, should be served no warmer than 8°C.

So, to go as low as 4°C is quite a radical step, particularly in the traditional world of cask.

Perhaps predictably, questions have been asked by some as to whether a cask beer at such a low temperature can pack any flavour.

 

 

My personal view is that yes it can, but I should also qualify that by adding that while I enjoy cask beer I have never been opposed to beers at the colder and more refreshing end of the spectrum either. Give me a lager on a summer's day and I'm a happy man.

Others suggest the low temperature will result in a chill haze, but is a hazy beer really an issue in this day and age?

If you already drink cask, Altitude may not be for you. However, for those who like lager but want to go for something a little different, this could be a gateway to a world of cask and craft.

The same point is relevant for pubs. It might not be for every cask specialist out there, but there are venues where it could appeal to a wider, and possibly younger audience.

On a wider point, it is encouraging to see that brewers are responding to the need for innovation in a category that while still widely cherished has struggled drastically for sales in recent years.

Purists may well scoff but it could bring interest and new drinkers to the category, which is something that should be welcomed by all lovers of cask.