A Real Ale and Pub Blog to the Sussex Scene and Beyond
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Serving Beer Better with Carbon Dioxide
"Today mine host serves better beer - and serves beer better with carbon dioxide instead of the old beer engine" is what this advertisement in the Brewers Guardian claimed near the start of the shiny-new, chromium-plated, forward-looking, to-hell-with-tradition, modernist decade that was the 1960s. How odd, then, that the bald-headed businessman sitting at the shiny-new, chromium-plated, forward-looking, to-hell-with-tradition, modernist bar that was Snow's in Piccadilly Circus doesn't exactly wear the expression of a man wholly enamoured with his half pint of Wm Youngers. And it's a disgracefully short measure.
Of course, despite this movement towards scientific efficiency that was 'improving' our methods of beer dispense, we could be assured that other traditional attitudes of that time were impervious to change. For an even less palatable flavour of post-war Britain, here's a link to an article about an incident that took place in that very same bar eight years previously http://archive.tribunemagazine.co.uk/article/15th-january-1954/1/no-drink-for-mr-murumbi
And it's not only about 'colour'. Our national consciousness is imbued with a casual Franco-phobia, no doubt as a legacy of our history of wars with that nation across the channel. But what did the French ever do to us to deserve such a fate as we dished out to them in 1962? From the same issue of the Brewers Guardian comes an article on "the continental travelling demonstration unit" that was designed to take the dreaded Watneys Red Barrel to the north of France. My copy of the 1974 Good Beer Guide advises us of this beer to "avoid like the plague". For those of you too young to remember Red Barrel, try this useful link: http://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_britain/keg_bitter/watneys_red_barrel.html
As much an ersatz horror as the beer is the "attractive" interior of the demonstration unit. Although furnished in dark oak with hunting-scene tapestry and horse-brasses to represent a Tudor-style public house, it looks alarmingly like a bar in some Alpine ski-lodge. The single red barrel sitting on the top of the bar appears suitably at home in this kitsch. Note the keg residing in the counter front cut-out. No wonder General de Gaulle vetoed Britain's application to join the Common Market the following year.