Ok lets get it out the way CASK is best. There you go. Simple.
But read on because maybe its not that simple.
For me Cask is best, i love the condition of a well kept cask beer. I love its body, its mouthfeel. I LOVE cask beer. Almost every beer that i have tried in multiformat is better on Cask. Yeah Cask needs looked after, yes the beer develops over time, meaning that a beer may be the following or the preceding day. But when the Cask beer hits that sweet spot its sublime. Others bloging on this subject suggest that some styles are better in dispensed via one method or another, and for many people this may be the case. But I've yet to be convinced. Whether it be a Mild, Bitter, Double IPA, or Imperial stout, where I've had it in multiple methods i prefer Cask.
Does that mean i dont like Bottle or Can(I am going to treat these as one, as in most cases the beer inside is conditioned the same.) No it bloody well doesn't. For one i like drinking at home, having a beer in the evening while watching tv or having a bunch of people round and trying a load of beers. But more importantly the Pubs dont always carry the style of beer i want. I cant guarantee when i walk into a pub that i will find a cask of Imperial stout or a cask of a Double IPA, in fact im gonna struggle to find them at all.
Then were onto the Tricky one. Keg.
Well first we need to break this down. As i recently discovered there are 2 keg types, What i tend to think of as Fizzy Keg and KeyKeg.
KeyKeg is basically a container with a Bag inside it. The beer is placed into the Bag and conditioned by the brewer. The beer is dispensed not by adding Gas to the beer, but by pumping gas between the container and the bag, forcing the beer out of the bag. If the beer is conditioned right (something the brewer has more control of than having to rely on a pub cellar man) then the beer can be just as good as cask.
With the more Traditional Fizzy Keg, well more or less i hate it. Why? well all told I dont like fizzy juice and I dont like fizzy beer and all told when this dispense method is used, its nearly always too carbonated for me.
And this is where i fall in line with most people who I've read bloging on this subject. Is Keg beer bad. NO. Can quality beer come in Keg form. YES. Is good beer being served in Keg form a good idea. Hell yeah.
Just recently 2 of the best pubs in Edinburgh replaced nondescript mass produced fizzy beer with Punk IPA, then they followed suit by replacing Guinness with Black Isle Porter on the same gas mix. Not only are these beers better than the predecessors, but they're local and smaller(well maybe Brewdog wont be smaller for long, the way they are growing) and id rather support a good small brewer than a Multinational chemist.
So all told Cask being better than Keg is a personal preference. Not an absolute. Good beer is good beer, regardless of how its dispensed. Yes the dispense can and will make a difference to the experience. But the dispense method is not going to make a bad beer good or a good beer bad. All it is going to do is tinker round the edges.