Boak and Bailey recently posted about St Austell Brewery in Cornwall putting some of their stronger and more unusual ales in kegs, and speculated as to whether this might lead to more breweries introducing more lower-volume guest ales on keg, where by definition turnover isn’t the problem it is with cask. In theory, the idea has some merit but, as I said in the comments, I’m not convinced that in the general run of pubs the customer base who go for cask would be interested in “craft keg”, especially one produced by a family brewer rather than a micro. It would just be seen as another keg beer.
Historically, keg ales and lagers have been preferred by those who do not trust the variability of cask beer, and continue to account for over 80% of draught beer sold in pubs. That market, to my mind, is adequately catered for by the likes of Carling, Stella, Guinness and John Smith’s Smooth. As B&B say, “Overheard some chaps in the pub discussing this the other day: all in their fifties, and all said that bad pints in their twenties put them off for life, hence they were on Stella Artois.” Also see this post of mine from 2009. I can’t honestly see that craft keg will have any appeal to those who put great store by consistency.
I could be wrong, of course, but I just don’t see craft keg bursting out of the beer bubble at all. I’ve created a poll to ask people whether they think we will see any craft keg beers appearing in Wetherspoon’s – surely the definitive sign of a product having gone “mainstream”. And if it did go mainstream, there would be a lot of muttering about “the thin end of the wedge”.
I would have thought there was more scope for putting beers like Leffe and Innis & Gunn on keg which don’t have a direct cask equivalent.