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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 November, 2004, 13:11 GMT
Experts point way to perfect pint
By Fred Brenton
BBC News Online Scotland

Pulling pint
There are four ingredients needed for the perfect pint

Since the day mankind mastered the art of fermentation, drinkers have dedicated their lives to seeking out the perfect pint.

But as the ages have passed the Holy Grail of finding a half-litre-or-so to die for has come closer and closer.

Some argue it's all in the pour, others how it's stored while some are not that bothered as long as it's not too warm or too flat.

But despite the list of common myths which people believe make up the perfect pint, brewing experts have come up with a surprisingly simple four-point formula which will push you in the right direction.

Since 1997, Cask Marque has dedicated its time to pointing punters in the direction of the best pints in Britain.

Stamp of approval

About 110 serving establishments carry the quality watchdog's stamp of approval in Scotland with its plaque denoting a pub has attained perfection in its pints.

An independent trust safeguarding quality within the UK beer industry, it claims the main things to look for in a perfect pint are temperature, appearance, aroma and flavour.

Cask Marque assessor and brewing expert Harvey Milne explained what is needed to produce the perfect pint.

"For cask condition beer you have to have serve the drink at the same temperature as it is stored in the cellar," explained Mr Milne, who has 36-years' experience within the brewing industry.

"That means it has to be stored at between 11 and 13C in the cellar and 10 to 14C at the bar.

Harvey Milne
Brewing expert Harvey Milne has 36-years' experience

"Most lagers are served at between 6 and 8C while Extra Cold Guinness is usually about 4C.

"In terms of appearance, it should have a good head when it's poured, it should retain that head throughout and it should appear bright and clear.

"For its aroma, there shouldn't be any overpowering smells detectable and it should smell fresh and clean.

"And then for flavour, it should be free from any sulphurous tastes.

"If you want to know what a bad beer tastes likes you should leave a glass of lager in the sun for 20 minutes and come back to it. That's what a bad beer tastes like."

There are also other side issues such as the cleanliness of glasses and how the beer is poured by the bar staff.

However, if a pint passes the four-point plan then you shouldn't find yourself too far away from perfection.

Mr Milne gave away some of the brewers' secrets at the Scottish Brewing Archive (SBA) in Glasgow's west end on Friday.

He was speaking at the archive's 10th annual open day where members of the public are invited in to see what it has to offer.

'Lager Lovelies'

Housed within Glasgow University's archive collection, the SBA contains documents old and new relating to the country's rich brewing history from the 1780s through to the 1990s.

Containing everything from ancient sales ledgers to papers outlining old brewing processes, it is used by the industry and public alike to research anything and everything relating to brewing north of the border.

Mr Milne, who is also a trustee at the SBA, said: "The archive provides a rich resource for people who want to look into any aspect of the brewing industry in Scotland.

"We get people contacting us to try and find out about their great Uncle Jimmy who used to work in a brewery in Alloa years ago and we can help provide them with background on what he might have done there at the time or what his job may have involved.

"But we get the most queries about the famous Tennent's Lager Lovelies. It seems people really liked the look of them and want to find out what happened to them or who they were."

* The SBA is open to queries from members of the public and the brewing industry alike and can be contacted on 0141 330 6079.

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