Tuesday, 15 February 2011

BCA's Revisited

I have written in the past, at some length, about Bottle-Conditioned Beers (BCA's) and after my experiences with the Woodforde's range I was sent to sample, and more recently with Beau Porter, from Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewery, have only served to endorse my earlier views. These are that bottle-conditioning is a very hit and miss affair, and that consistency is certainly NOT guaranteed with this process.

Matters came to a head the other night when I poured, or I should say attempted to pour, a glass of Beau Porter, from RTWB. Normally an excellent beer, the bottle I opened was extremely lively. Granted it did not fob all over the place, but despite slow and careful pouring I still only manged to get about a third of a pint in my glass, (the rest was all foam). Interrupting the pouring process of course led to a glass of cloudy beer; not too much of a problem with a dark beer such as porter, but nevertheless the suspended yeast still affected the taste.

For me, this was a good beer spoilt, and quite unnecessarily as well. So far as I am concerned, bottle-conditioning adds nothing to a beer, and runs a strong risk of spoiling it. I have now reached the stage where I actively avoid BCA's, and I think CAMRA has got it very wrong with their persistence in endorsing this style.


Ed said...

I think it was a mistake CAMRA backing bottle conditioned ales. Not that there aren't some wonderful ones out there but there is so much crap. I think it was the bloke from the Stringers brewery that summed it up with the term RAIB roulette - I guess you lost this time!

Mark Dredge said...

I think there are some decent BCAs out there but they are, exactly as you say, hit and miss. I've got to the stage where unless it's actual chunks which would need chewing that I end up just adding the yeast anyway - I like the extra body that it gives.

The trouble with non-BCA is that you never quite know the process it's gone through - is it a full pasteurisation or do they use the Thornbridge technique (which it takes a smarter person than me to recount)? I've had a few beers from Fyne Ales recently, all non-BCA, and they were excellent.

Cooking Lager said...

You do realise by not liking BCA's you are part of Dickie's ignorami?

Paul Bailey said...

Mark, whilst some* would agree with you about the yeast giving extra body to the beer, there were actual chunks of the stuff in the porter I had the other night!
* Bob Dockerty, owner of and brewer at Larkins, reckons his Porter tastes better with the yeast still in suspension!

Mark and Ed, I agree there are some really good BCA's out in the market, but it is still a very hit and miss affair finding them.

Cookie. I'm not quite sure what you mean about Dickie's ignorami. Please elaborate.

Curmudgeon said...

Personally I find cloudy beer offputting (assuming it's not a style like Belgian Witbier that's meant to be cloudy) and so unless I can pour a BCA clear it's a no-no for me.

"Dickie's ignorami" refers to Richard English, a pedantic buffoon who inhabits the CAMRA web forum and loves to correct others' spelling and grammatical errors, though not always being correct himself. He believes the plural of ignoramus is "ignorami", and he is probably the only person left in the UK who still writes 'bus with the initial apostrophe.

He also (laughably) is constantly banging on about the evils of "chemical fizz."