Inspired by this post by “Retired Martin” not due to any reason other than the first picture in it. It has been a while since I visited The Beer School in Westhoughton and I noted on said picture that they are now using 100mL conical flasks with rubber bungs to show off their cask beer.
The scientist in me loves that little quirk, fitting in well with the school theme the micropub actually has.
The drinker in me questions the whole entire need for it.
For starters, I can’t even recall if they used what I’m dubbing beer vials previously (if there is another more common or proper term, please let me know and I’ll actually change the title of the piece) as I never noticed before.
If you walk into quite a few pubs many seem to think that these little vessels, usually small Kilner jars (TM – other brands are available) that putting a small amount of each beer in them and putting them in and around the specific beer engine is helpful.
Maybe it is but not to me it isn’t and I’ve yet to see any good reason why they would be to anyone else.
First of all they create unnecessary clutter on a bar top.
Secondly, that is extra washing up for the staff, assuming they are cleaned.
Thirdly, are they filled each day the beer is available or just sit around as long as the beer is on, because if they are about showing of the clarity of each cask then I’ve seen plenty with more sediment in them that the usual Kernel bottle.*
My fourth point would be if it is to show the colour to prospective punters then, again it would seem like a dreadful waste of beer and effort for little reward; it would also seem to be there so as to not give the customer chance to engage in a chat about each beer with the server, which at busy times is probably useful, but if you are confronted by someone who can’t gauge what colour a beer is from the pump clip, assuming the style is mentioned on the thing, then perhaps writing it on the blackboard is probably the best option. Or using funny little drawing depicting the colour of each beer, which I like, again assuming many things, first and foremost that your bar is well-lit enough.
When it comes to colour, just how much can you gauge from a small sample of each beer, I refer to the rather ironically named Beer-Lambert law, which, if I remember correctly, relates to the fact that the small volume of liquid in a compact area will make it appear more concentrated than it actually is, i.e. the darker it will appear.
Also let us not forget apart from colour and clarity, sitting on a bar top at ambient conditions isn’t exactly akin to a well-managed cellar temperature.
So taking all that into account, really, what are they for?
The final poser is; they are only ever used for cask beer, why aren’t these vials ever used to show off keg beers?
Thanks for reading and despite planning another post, if I don’t before, have a Merry Christmas.
*I love Kernel beers, don’t ever think sediment is a “bad thing”