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gillhalfpint
09-11-2011, 22:07
Does anyone on here have experience of autovax?

It appears many pubs including, so I have heard GBG pubs, are using this system where slops in the drip tray are syphoned back into the feed pipe and served again.

If a customer has lemonade, lime or any other stuff in their beer, that can spill over into the drip tray, and the beer can also wash the servers hands into the drip tray, staff taking beer from the next handpull could spill that beer into another drip tray, and it could be a mecca for flies. I presume there is a filter on the system to prevent any dead flies getting into the feed pipe. Reused glasses could contaminate the beer.

It puts another slant on the expression often heard, "That's the way the brewer intended it to taste". Surely fresh beer is what we all want and deserve for our money.

pintplease
10-11-2011, 00:59
The autovac system of pulling ale was banned 30 or 40 years ago for hygene reasons,
that's when all the pubs started going on to electric pumps dispensing bright beer from kegs. Through constant pressure from CAMRA over the years most pubs gradually started going back to cask (real ales) using the old style wicket to pull the ale but without the autovac recirculation method. I would have thought that autovacs would still be banned from use.

hondo
10-11-2011, 07:12
haven't heard of this and hope i never see it :sick:

gillhalfpint
10-11-2011, 08:53
It is being used all over the place again.

I am reading this from the yahoo scoopgen group site where there is a lot of debate going on about the current use of them, and the more I read the worse it seems to get. One I've read this morning is saying that if beer has been lying in a drip tray for a while since the last customer, your pint will draw that up with whatever beer has been in the line. There is no filter so whatever is in the tray goes in your beer.

Below is one persons comment.

"they are, apparently, used mainly in South Yorkshire (so I've been told) but I'm willing to be corrected on that

They are used in the Lion at Basford, Nottingham (a Pub People outlet) (they have a number of pubs in South Yorkshire)
I have queried their use with them and also with the environmental health (EH) the company say that are fine (but then they would)
the person at 'EH' I spoke to was appalled, but had never seen them in use
their concern (EH) is with what they term "cross contamination" but this is a very difficult thing to prove which I assume is why the 'EH' in yorkie land have done nothing

I've seen glasses half poured put in another drip tray, before filling (what I would class as "cross contamination")

and I'm sorry Gill, there is no filter, just a hole at the bottom of the drip tray so what ever goes into the drip tray, also goes back into the beer".

ROBCamra
10-11-2011, 09:07
In theory CAMRA will not allow any pub in the GBG that uses the return valve system.

However, this one The Commercial (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/40613/) is still in the GBG despite using them.

There is a filter attached, but it's similar sized mesh to a sieve. It only stops e.g. plasters and other fairly large detritus getting back into the barrel. :sick:

Filthy things and they need to be banned in my opinion. :moremad:

gillhalfpint
10-11-2011, 09:18
It certainly makes me wonder what the real story is when I take a beer back and get told "that's the way the brewer made it".

What on earth do we drink in our "freshly" poured beer.

Do these return valves get cleaned between beers? All sorts of stuff springs to mind now. The debate sprang up last night from a remark someone made about drip tray beer going back into his pint, and has snowballed from there. Lots of folk didn't know it was a more common practice these days again, though mainly in the north and Scotland, but someone says the Euston Tap has them, and another that a pub has them on 6 of their 11 lines.

Farway
10-11-2011, 14:08
Not a practice I was aware of, I thought tipping the slops back into the Mild barrel was a thing of the past

I have not seen it around here, but then how would a punter know?

I find it surprising it is allowed given the 'elf n safety nonsense we get about other matters

Rex_Rattus
10-11-2011, 14:34
I remember hearing of this sort of thing happenning back in the late 60s/early 70s, but I didn't know what the mechanics were that let it happen, and nor did I have any personal experience of it - as far as I know. My guess is that there is no way that a punter can tell that it is happenning, other than when he or she gets a dodgy pint. But what possible reason would you want a return valve for, other than to pass dregs back into the cask? It's outrageous of course.

gillhalfpint
10-11-2011, 15:30
From what I have been reading, the dregs don't go back into the cask.

Dregs stay in the drip tray till the next drinker wants a drink, and as the handpull draws up the beer, the dregs are brought up into the line from the drip tray and the mix of fresh beer and dregs beer is poured into the glass.

sheffield hatter
10-11-2011, 17:26
... as the handpull draws up the beer, the dregs are brought up into the line from the drip tray and the mix of fresh beer and dregs beer is poured into the glass.

This used to be the standard way of pouring Tetleys when I used to live in Leeds. With a swan neck and a very tight sparkler on, the server would pull and pull until the desired thick creamy head materialised. This could involve large amounts of beer flowing over the side of the glass and back through the pump via the autovac. Nowadays, the server has to let it stand and then top it up, but this second pull has the unwanted side-effect of causing the head to dissipate after a few sips rather than staying all the way down the glass. And of course unscrupulous pub companies and landlords throughout the land have started using the swan neck and sparkler as a brilliant way of serving short measure. You win some, you lose some...

Millay
11-11-2011, 06:42
Lots of folk didn't know it was a more common practice these days again, though mainly in the north and Scotland, but someone says the Euston Tap has them, and another that a pub has them on 6 of their 11 lines.

I hope not, from what I can remember the Euston Tap doesn't have individual drip trays, just a trough that runs under all the pumps. Adds a whole new meaning to a "pint of mix" :sick:

Brewguru
11-11-2011, 13:55
I hope not, from what I can remember the Euston Tap doesn't have individual drip trays, just a trough that runs under all the pumps. Adds a whole new meaning to a "pint of mix" :sick:

Looks unlikely to be any kind of cask return system. If they had a stout on one pump and a pale ale on another the two would mix and the pale wouldn't be pale any more! Any brewer and pub worth their salt who cares about beer quality would never endorse returning beer from a drip tray. I would imagine that it's the poor quality back street pubs which do this on the whole.

I once saw a cellar which had great big funnels situated over the shives, where the beer is spiled. The only reason to have a funnel there would be to return beer into the cask. It was in Tynemouth/ North Shields but fortunately for the pub I cannot remember it's name. It was about 5 years ago as well so hopefully they no longer do this adhorent practice.

Crossste
11-11-2011, 17:10
When i had my pub in West Yorkshire the beer was dispensed through the autovac system. At one time the brewery mentioned taking them out which i mentioned to my regulars, who as one, sounded thier anger if they were to be removed. The autovacs stayed.

Just for clarity each tray should be individual to each beer and the beer is returned into the line with a non return valve stopping any beer from returning to the barrel. In each of the trays a small float allows a small amount of beer into the line on each pull of the handpump. 4-5 sharp/fierce pulls on the pump and one long slow one into a clean glass usually pours the perfect pint with a nice tight creamy head. If done correctly there is no need for the spillage to run over the servers fingers.

Personally i cant see owt wrong with 'em if the beer is being sold quick enough and i cant recall having to stride over folks rolling on the floor with belly wharch at closing time. If the beer was to remain in the autovac system for a prolonged period of time i could then see it becoming a problem.

Strongers
12-11-2011, 00:16
It all sounds a bit manky to me.

What happened to 2 1/4 pulls, nice head, no spillage, no sparklers, happy customers?

NickDavies
12-11-2011, 09:40
I once saw a cellar which had great big funnels situated over the shives, where the beer is spiled. The only reason to have a funnel there would be to return beer into the cask. It was in Tynemouth/ North Shields but fortunately for the pub I cannot remember it's name. It was about 5 years ago as well so hopefully they no longer do this adhorent practice.

This device? (http://www.harrymason.co.uk/htm/moredetails.asp?Product=212&Route=1&ChosenCatagory=26&DisplayMode=DetailedView)

They still exist. One place I worked over 30 years ago we had a gallon jug into which everything was tipped. At the end of the night it all went into whichever was the fullest barrel. You can still buy the equipment, so I'm sure it still gets widely used.

Alesonly
12-11-2011, 21:59
The whole thing sounds disgusting too me especially when I think of some of the things Ive seen Bar staff do with there hands whilst working behind the bar including not washing there hands after going too the bog. :sick:

Brewguru
13-11-2011, 14:22
This device? (http://www.harrymason.co.uk/htm/moredetails.asp?Product=212&Route=1&ChosenCatagory=26&DisplayMode=DetailedView)


They still exist. One place I worked over 30 years ago we had a gallon jug into which everything was tipped. At the end of the night it all went into whichever was the fullest barrel. You can still buy the equipment, so I'm sure it still gets widely used.

That's the one, makes me shudder. They were on all the barrels in the pub that shall not be named, so not just the fullest got topped up.

I had looked on Masons website to see if they were still sold and couldn't find it, so well done!

oldboots
13-11-2011, 19:31
This device? (http://www.harrymason.co.uk/htm/moredetails.asp?Product=212&Route=1&ChosenCatagory=26&DisplayMode=DetailedView)

I used to use them when I worked in a pub, (sometimes they're known as "dolphins" BTW). They made the difference between profit and loss even back in the 70s when you had a busy night with lots of spillage in the drip trays. We put the same beer back into the right barrels, ie bitter into bitter and mild into mild and only in small enough quantities not to foul the barrel. We would empty the trays into a clean bucket regularly then cover it before "Back Filitering" through a fresh filter paper later on. We were always very careful about clean hands, glasses and the buckets used, certainly nothing horrible like fag ends ever got into the beer. However I can't say I was ever at ease with the practice - my thought being that nothing that comes out of the cellar should go back into it. This was all in the South and the pub in question was GBG listed for over 20 years under 3 different licensees and the beer always tasted good.

We didn't have swan necks in that pub either, lovely old Gaskill & Chambers pumps, with a straight spout, fitted in 1947 and coming through 1" external diameter pipework, half pint to a pull. They were changed out in the 1980s as they had Gun Metal barrels which have a high lead content;- sadly the beer never tasted as good afterwards when it came out of stainless steel barrelled pumps; nowadays pulling beer through food quality plastic/stainless, 1/4 pull pumps through skinny plastic pipework tastes worse even if the losses are smaller.



Oh and don't start me on long swan necks - an abomination that has damaged beer flavour south of Doncaster since about 1980 when those bloody Boddington ad's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEEU1nQeGNA&feature=related) made people think a pint of beer was meant to look like milk. :moremad: much as I admire Tarquill's Trolleys (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQfXkK1FD3s) - artistically of course. and YEP, that is how beer was advertised in the 80s.

pintplease
13-11-2011, 20:56
Today most pubs insist on giving you a fresh glass each time you buy a drink.
In the days of the autovac a lot of customers used to insist on using the same glass, which could have picked up anything from whatever surface it had sat on. Cigarette ash, dirt or any other gremlins that were hanging about on the tables could now be stuck on the bottom of the glass. When the barman then pulled the drink using the autovac all the ale overflowing and running down the side of the glass would pick up any dirt from underneath it as well as from his fingers, all heading into the trough to be re circulated into the next customers glass.
I remember one barman from those days who worked as a gardener, the dirt was ingrained into his fingers and when he was pulling ale or handing you change you couldn't help noticing his dirty hands but nobody seemed to bother about it.
We must have had stomachs like leather in those days being immune from most of the germs lol

Alesonly
13-11-2011, 23:49
I think after reading this thread I will stick too Real Ale in Bottles more often in the less salubrious Pubs I visit.:sick: I'm not surprised Lager & Keg took off in the 70s & 80s If this was a standard practise in a lot of Ale Pubs. Makes me feel glad I grew up in North London in a totally Keg area with Trophy' Red Barrel' & Double Diamond. And We though we were hard done by because we could not get a decent pint of Ale . :D

arwkrite
14-11-2011, 04:07
Horrified after reading through this thread. Its like recycling food off other peoples plates. I am a nosey type who often sits at the bar to see what goes on behind it.Bye and large I have never been impressed by the sanitary habits of bar staff. Since I dont get around so much these days I have noticed less stomach upsets bother me.I also use handgell, must be going paranoid again.

Its put me right of my pint.......tea anyone ?

aleandhearty
14-11-2011, 17:29
Horrified after reading through this thread.

Although I was partly re-assured by 'Crosste's' post, on balance I still feel a little uneasy about them. I must admit I googled the topic and found this discussion on Tandleman's blog:

http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/auotvacs.html

gillhalfpint
14-11-2011, 20:58
Enjoyed reading that blog. Pretty much saying the same as the various comments on here now. And that was a couple of years ago.

Not a lot changes. I don't feel happy about paying £3 plus for a pint of anything that is not the beer I thought it would be though.

Wittenden
14-11-2011, 22:47
Although I was partly re-assured by 'Crosste's' post, on balance I still feel a little uneasy about them. I must admit I googled the topic and found this discussion on Tandleman's blog:

http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/auotvacs.html

Typical Yorkshire eh!? Having said that, I enjoyed a few pints that must have come through this system last week.

Brewguru
16-11-2011, 21:07
Another few facts to add to this thread.

2 methods of recovering beer: the Tun dish (or dolphin) which is a funnel above the barrel with a filter and the AutoVac. This is also known as an economiser and for those of you in Scotland it is also known as a Mc Glashan beer recovering dispenser. Lesson over.

Apparently there is a third, for when the first few pints of a fresh barrel are drawn through a beer line into a bucket. This fresh beer is then readmitted to the beer line by a beer conserver . This is just a vessel connected to a special valve in the beer line running from the cask to the pump. As a pint is drawn a set amount of the vessel's contents are also pulled into the beer. Admittedly I have never heard of this, but CAMRA's book on Cellarmanship describes it so. It goes on to state that there is nothing stopping the unscrupulous practice of watering down the beer using this device.

Anyone had the misfortune to come across this particluar horror?

hondo
17-11-2011, 07:09
got to love the names economiser & beer conserver aye right :rolleyes:

Strongers
18-11-2011, 13:39
If I have 8 pints in a decent boozer I'll wake up in the morning with a heavy head, but whenever I go on a crawl of an area's different pubs I always (without fail) have fidgety guts for a couple of hours in the morning. That is with or without a doner.

Maybe I'm slowly being poisoned!

Alesonly
18-11-2011, 15:58
If I have 8 pints in a decent boozer I'll wake up in the morning with a heavy head, but whenever I go on a crawl of an area's different pubs I always (without fail) have fidgety guts for a couple of hours in the morning. That is with or without a doner.

Maybe I'm slowly being poisoned!

Yes Ive had that trouble this morning after yesterdays Pub crawl in St Albans Must have been one of the 10 Pints I had.

Farway
18-11-2011, 16:06
Yes Ive had that trouble this morning after yesterdays Pub crawl in St Albans Must have been one of the 10 Pints I had.

I only had one pint of Fursty Ferret at lunchtime yesterday, at a location in Surrey

Was it the pig in blanket I scoffed at RHS Wisley or the Fursty Ferret that caused this mornings troubles?