the subject of the CAMRA campaign to, in essence, endorse a bottle conditioned beer as being just that is widely recognised to be a well meant disaster that is unhelpful and counterproductive. A slightly negative outlook perhaps, but as someone who has drunk and sold Bottle Conditioned Beers (BCA's) for years, I've had first hand experience of the toxic stock of affirming that something you can't hope to know the taste of is how you define real ale.
Not being a member of the CAMRA (you've seen the CAMRA) I decided to look at their website regarding the above subject here. To be fair, assuming you can get over the sloppiness that leads to them writing "bottle beers" instead of bottled beers, there is a lot more information and useful clarification than I was expecting.
It all sounds very positive and there are good reasons listed for supping a BCA. Disappointingly though, there is no mention of how a brewer gets their product stamped with the logo, and therefore no suggestion of a quality processes. And more damning is reason number 10 for drinking real ale in a bottle - that it tastes better.
To avoid going over old ground lets just remember that a lot of BCA, or, if you must, RAIB, tastes like drek. Sour, soupy, frothing, blobbing, earthy, tart murkiness that usually ends up making its final journey down your sink.
Against that backdrop its notable just how many breweries stick the logo on their bottle labels. What I hadn't thought about was, quite a lot don't. Why?
As you know, on Sunday I held a beer tasting at Beefy Towers (not sure about this moniker...) and we drank some stupendously good beer. What struck me today putting the empty bottles in the recycle bin (ooh get me!) was that only 2 of them carried the CAMRA logo. That, despite the fact that 9 of the 16 beers we drunk were bottle conditioned. Worse, but almost predictably so, the 2 that carried the logo were the least enjoyable of the night.
Admittedly I don't know when the logo started to be used so perhaps the 2006,2007 and 2008 Thornbridge and Fullers beers did not have it to use but Kernel's beers were all BCA as was Ilkley's. Fullers continue to produce their Vintage ale and I don't think I've spotted the CAMRA logo on it.
All sorts of contributory factors can lead to a BCA being a disappointment but in this line up the BCA's sporting the logo were the poor cousins of some impeccable bottled royalty.
Given the huge number of dire producers and products proudly informing the consumer that this is what CAMRA thinks beer should taste like (because its not immediately obvious that its an indicator of secondary fermentation) is it possible perhaps that Ilkley, Kernel and Thornbridge don't think the logo is necessary?
Or do they just not want to be associated with a white elephant concept synonymous with hobby bottlers and undrinkable beer?