Last night, the Southport Swords, our local longsword dance side, were on a mini-tour of some Southport real ale pubs and I was tagging along for the crawl. The last port of call was the Guest House where one of my favourites was on the bar: Liverpool Organic 24 Carat Gold, a 4.2% beer described as a "floral, fruity beer with moderate malts and a hint of spices". Well, yes - perhaps.
While my second pint was being pulled, the handpump broke, and Jack the barman asked whether I minded it being served straight from the cask. Of course I didn't, but it occurred to me that I had a rare opportunity to try beer from the same cask served by both handpump and gravity dispense. I found that there were distinct differences, although not enough to make you think they were different brews. The gravity beer tasted less smooth, I sensed a slight prickling sensation on the tongue, and overall it tasted sharper. In contrast, the handpumped beer was slightly smoother.
Both pints were perfectly enjoyable, but I was surprised how noticeable the differences were. I marginally preferred the handpumped version.