June 30, 2009

What the firkin

As I sat down to write this, I was (obviously) thinking about the word "firkin". It's a funny word. Which made me think of another funny "f" word (and no, it's not four-letters). Fartlek. Ever heard of it? Most runners probably have, and may know what it means:"speed play" in Swedish. And just so you can sound really knowledgeable, it's a form of interval training that helps improve speed and endurance.

But we're here to talk about beer and beer-related words, so on to the firkin.

Firkin is an old British unit of measure, usually equal to a quarter of a barrel. Beers that are matured in firkins (cask ales) are not pasteurized or pressurized with carbon dioxide - meaning that they're a lot "flatter" than what most American beer drinkers are used to (or, at least, what I'm used to). Beers served in firkins are also called "real ales" by "real beer drinkers".

I had some firkin beers on Sunday. They were good, but definitely different than what I typically drink. It's funny because I've always said that I can't drink ice-cold beers (it hurts my teeth) so I typically let them warm to room temp. That's pretty much what a beer from a firkin tastes like - a flat, room-temp beer - and yet I just don't really like it.

I'd also like to note that beer is not meant to be served ice cold - no matter what the advertisers have led you to believe. Beers are actually meant to be enjoyed at a warmer temp. This allows them to release more of their natural flavor and aroma, which to me, explains why a lot of beers are served so cold. They don't have a lot of flavor to begin with, so you're really not going to gain anything by drinking it warmer.

Have you tried a firkin beer? Do you want to? If you've had one, what are your thoughts on their taste and "texture" (flat vs. carbonated).

1 comment:

  1. I might have had a firkin at some point when I was in the UK, I recall having a couple of warm beers in Scotland in '92. But I can't really remember so I'd like to have another soon to try it again. But I'm pretty sure very warm and flat wouldn't be for me. On the other hand, I'm definitely against the freezing cold beer - the "cold avtivated can" by Coors makes me want to cry, but then again, Coors makes me want to cry, period. Would anyone really buy a beer b/c the mountains on the can turn blue when cold? That's a sad state of affairs.