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Cyclops widens its eye

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted June 23, 2014
booze news

Cyclops Beer embraces craft, expands tasting notes to include keg and lager.

Cyclops Beer, the UK-based industry body that produces tasting notes for more than 1,700 cask ales, has now extended its remit to include all types of beer.

Described in a press release as providing "a quick and easy guide to how a beer looks, smells and tastes and how bitter or sweet it is", the Cyclops scheme had to date only covered cask and bottle-conditioned beers.

However, as the organisation's Stephen Gould explains, "Cyclops Beer decided to make this fundamental change as there are so many great-tasting beers on sale which are not available in cask."

"We've increasingly been asked to accredit lagers, craft keg and other beers," Gould continues.

"Now seems the right time to broaden Cyclops and make our clear and easy-to-understand tasting notes available for the wide variety of beers that you can find in pubs, clubs, beer festivals and the off trade."

"There has never been a better time to drink British beer and we want to encourage drinkers to discover some great-tasting beers, regardless of whether or not they are available in cask."

The first keg beer to be accredited by the scheme is Longhorn IPA from Purity, the notes for which can be read here.

"Cyclops is a fantastic and informative system and we are delighted to see Purity Brewing Company beers listed with Cyclops," says Purity's Paul Halsey.

"The best things in life are simple yet effective and Cyclops is the perfect example."

"It is a great way for our customers to understand the beers we produce and decide which of our beers most suit their palate."

"Cyclops' move into keg beers is great news for Purity with the recent release of Longhorn IPA and the forthcoming release of our hopped, craft lager beer Lawless."

The move has also been welcomed by Colin Cordy, managing director of St Peter's Brewery.

"We are delighted that Cyclops have decided to include craft-brewed lagers in their descriptor programme," he says.

"It will be interesting to see how the lagers compare in terms of 'See', 'Smell' and 'Taste' versus the ales already participating in the programme."

"Although some real ale breweries are experiencing exciting growth, overall beer sales in Britain are in decline," adds Tony Jerome, head of marketing at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), one of the organisations behind the Cyclops scheme1.

"It is therefore important for CAMRA to support generic beer promotions such as Let There Be Beer and the Cyclops expansion into non-real ale products to encourage more consumers to drink beer."

"Today's keg beer drinker could be tomorrow's real ale consumer."

"We want to see more people trying beer in community pubs and CAMRA's role will be to champion real ale within these initiatives."

As previously reported on the Rake & Herald, the Cyclops tasting notes use symbols and clear descriptions for each beer so that drinkers can see at a glance how bitter or sweet a brew is.

Consequently, the initiative, the press release states, "helps to demystify beer by reducing jargon and technical terms so that consumers don't need to be an expert to find the beer that is right for them".

Breweries are invited to send their beer to Cyclops for analysis, with the tasting notes then added to the Cyclops website and the CaskFinder app while also being made available for breweries in order to promote their beers among drinkers.

Moreover, as well as now including keg and lager, Cyclops is also "placing greater emphasis on the colour of beer".

As such, "all tasting notes" on the Cyclops website will now "clearly show whether a beer is golden, amber or dark".

Many of the beer records will also display an icon to show whether it is available as cask, keg, bottle, bottle conditioned or canned.

But that's not all, with information on hops and malts also now set for inclusion where possible.

"We are catering for those beer drinkers who want to know which hops and malt are used to brew their favourite beers and if the brewers are willing to provide this then we are happy to add it to the beer records," Gould says.

"Why shouldn't consumers become more aware of these key ingredients in the same way that they know which grapes are used to make the wines that they enjoy?"

Well, quite.

Talking of which, anyone fancy a pint?

See also Cyclops supports real ale sales, posted 13/3/13.

Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist and geographer who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. A published lyricist and founder of the Naked Trouser DJ collective, he has fronted punk bands in both the UK and Poland, including the only band to be kicked off BBC Radio Cornwall. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


1) Cyclops Beer was established in 2006 and is a not-for-profit company that "invests any surplus into extending understanding and usage of Cyclops Beer tasting notes amongst consumers and the trade". It is run by the Cyclops Beer Board, which consists of Everards Brewery, Cask Marque, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and CAMRA.

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