When is a keg not a keg? Real ale from key-kegs explained.
Back in April 2015, when delegates at CAMRA’s Members Weekend in Nottingham passed a motion about the labelling of “real ale in a key-keg”, many commentators saw it as a major step in CAMRA modernising and recognising what is popularly known as “craft keg”.
In fact, while the motion was the first to be passed by CAMRA’s highest body to positively recognise the sector, it actually came four years after CAMRA’s Technical Advisory Group first recognised that key-kegs can contain beer meeting CAMRA’s definition of real ale, a decision which followed trials held at The Great British Beer Festival. Even in a hall full of CAMRA activists in Nottingham, it was clear that many were unaware of CAMRA’s position nor what key-kegs are all about.
When CAMRA was established in 1971 it fought against a sweeping trend for what came to be known as “real-ale” being replaced by bland “keg” beers. Forty-four years later the word keg still has massive negative connotations for many CAMRA members with any beers associated with the “k” word being dismissed as “fizz”. However, what those pioneering members were really fighting against wasn’t the physical containers the beer was served from, it was the product in them which was made with low quality ingredients and universally filtered & pasteurised, killing so much of the flavour in the process.