@jeffreyjohnbell They definitely do the job, don't get me wrong. Just to lots of people, fishguts in the beer seems odd/unnecessary.— Kew Brewery (@KewBrewery) August 27, 2015
Whenever someone calls finings - the things that help cask beer to settle and clear - "fish guts" you know they're protesting too much. The truth is a lot of brewers don't like finings because they introduce a new way in which their beer can fail: fined beer isn't meant to be cloudy at all, so if it is, it's classed as ullage, and back to the brewery it goes for a replacement. A wizard wheeze is to stop using finings and when the beer's murky just say "it's meant to be that way".
In reality cask beer should never be murky, fined or not: if you're served a pint that is, you've been mugged off. Yes, truly pin bright beer is difficult to achieve without finings, but if left to settle no commercial beer should remain opaque (only a slight haze is acceptable, unless it's a wheat beer). Finings don't strip flavour from beer, just sediment in suspension which can only have a negative impact on the palate. The fact some (but not all) finings are made from the dried swim bladder of a fish is neither here nor there. Calling them "fish guts" is like calling Haribo "horse hoof sweets" or, as my pal Jim put it in this tweet, calling sausages "pig arse tubes".
You can consider this post a follow-on from Arthur's The Hollow Taste of Isinglass earlier this month, and my own Don't complain! in February. Oh, and we should be forgiving of the brewer from Kew Brewery: David's a very nice man and, having tasted his test brews before he launched, I can confirm he has much skill. Sadly, he worked at Weird Beard for a while and I think he went native.
UPDATE: There's been a lively discussion on twitter, as well as in the comments below, spawned by this post. It's probably because much of Britain is lashed with rain making for a particularly dismal Bank Holiday Monday. I think these tweets deserve a look:
@Beer4John I can’t think of another industry where producers take so much delight in telling their customers how stupid they are— robsterowski (@robsterowski) August 31, 2015