Beer necessities

Victoria Moore has gone too far. Last week (Drink, 14 June) she decided to tell the readers of a Labour magazine, of all people, about what constitutes good beer and produced a 100 per cent hit-rate of elementary errors.

She sagely told us about how the absence of the "sprinkler" on a beer pump makes the beer go flat, how cellared beer is more likely to go stale in the pipes and, finally, about the difference that is made by a wire mesh to filter sediment. This is all tripe.

The item is called a sparkler and is there to encourage the sort of tiny, densely packed bubbles required for a decent head, which is impossible to produce from beer poured from a jug, as hers was.

Why beer should go stale in the pipes of any pub with a decent turnover is beyond me and, as for sediment, there is no wire mesh that can trap the cloudiness caused by the stirring up of yeasty deposits during the rolling of the barrel into position. Good cellar-conditioning, on the other hand, allows beer to settle for a number of days so that sediment is rarely a problem. Please tell her to stick to her usual frothy self-referential articles about trendy, inconsequential drinks where we don't care if she gets it wrong.

Geoff Pearson
London E3

This article first appeared in the 21 June 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Better to shop than to vote