A Conversation for Real Ale

Not just British

Post 1

Phil

Real ale isn't just British, the Belgians brew some very good beers which can be classed (by the CAMRA) deffinition as real ale. So to do some American breweries.


Not just British

Post 2

Prez HS (All seems relatively quiet here)

And there's the answer to my question somewhere else... thnx Phil.


Not just British

Post 3

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

I'm all in favor of the flavor of real ales, so long as the chunks don't get to me. I had a micro-brewed hefeweizen while visiting Portland, Oregon, that had all the chunks still in it, and found it less than appealing. It had the color and consistency of pulpy orange juice, and the taste was...not great. A lot of microbrewers all along the west coast do make real ales, but with the settling effect in the keg, you're only likely to get a chunk or two, max.


Not just British

Post 4

Baron Grim

In the US it is very difficult to find Real Ales. I believe that any beer that is transported between states must be pasteurized. The ONLY Real Ale I have been able to find in Texas is St. Arnold's Elissa IPA which is served at select pubs in Austin, Houston, Dallas and a few other places. It's from a live cask with a real siphoning tap. Unfortunately I'm not overly fond of the flavor. It's a bit too robust for me but I find that with most of St. Arnold's beers.

What I find quite distressing is there is a local Texas brewery called "Real Ale Brewing Co." They're a typical microbrewery and some of their selections are quite tasty, but I don't believe they are real ales. Can you have a bottled real ale? Can it be served from the same style pressure taps as the Bass and Harp (and Bud Light and Miller Lite that most Texans guzzle down)?

I could be wrong, but I believe the least real thing about them is their name. I wonder if they've heard of CAMRA.


Not just British

Post 5

Phil

"Can you have a bottled real ale?"

Yes, or at least camra thinks that bottle conditioned real ale counts as real ale.
http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=raib


Not just British

Post 6

Baron Grim

Next time I'm in the store I'll hold one of their bottles up to the light, but I'm fairly certain I'll see no sediment.

I'm convinced CAMRA would not say "Real Ale" is real ale.


Not just British

Post 7

Phil

Quite probably.


Not just British

Post 8

Pastey

One of the things that Camra go for about the Real part is that the beer goes through a secondary fermentation. This is slower than the primary fermentaion and gives a much more rounded flavour. It doesn't really matter too much whether this secondary fermentation takes place in a cask or a bottle, as long as it does take place. The flavour of the final beer will be different depending on the fermenter used and bottle beers will taste different from cask beers.

It therefore however is possible to get bottled ales that are considered Real, and in the UK Camra are promoting these by trying to get brewers to put a "Camra Says this is Real" logo on the label. Just remember that this does mean that there is sediment in the bottle and this could lead to a cloudy beer that will taste different from the clear beer. So make sure you leave the bottles 24 hours before opening them, always pour them into a glass and be careful when pouring them.

As for the British side of things, Britain by no means has the monopoly of Real Ale, I think we just go on about it more.
I've had some very good beers from the States. Not sure if they were all Real or not, but they were all very nice. German beers aren't too bad, the Belgian ones vary dramatically as lots of companies mass produce bland crud knowing that people will buy it simply becase it's "Made In Belgian." The surprising country for beers however is France. I've found some really nice beers from there. And just to note, Stella Artois ("wife beater" to use the slang is not French, but Belgian. It's also not Real. Heck, it's barely lager (in my opinion).

smiley - rose


Not just British

Post 9

Baron Grim

Texas has some very inane rules. Regardless of what the rest of the beer brewing world knows, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission enacted a new law several years ago that dictates how a beer is labeled according to its Alcohol By Volume (ABV) percentage. Unless a brewery is willing to change their labels to meet these specifications or to make special batches for sale in Texas, they are banned. That's how I lost my favourite two Scottish ales, Younger's Special Tartan and McEwan's Export. They were below the 5% ABV limit and by TABC rules, could not be labeled as anything other than "Beer" or "Lager". I believe Belhaven just upped the alcohol content a few tenths of a percentage. Harp's "lager" kegs in Texas are now labeled as "Draught Malt Liquor" as anything above 5% ABV can't be called lager.


Not just British

Post 10

8584330

Count Zero,

I'm very sorry to hear about the inane Texas thing, and sincerely hope that your company sends you on some business trips to more beer-friendly states. Here in the Pacific Northwest we do have some cask-conditioned and bottle-conditioned choices, but I don't know if they ever make it to Texas.

Last weekend I was at the Boonville Beer Festival (Boonville, California) and had more than a few tasty brews of which I'm sure CAMRA would approve, if only they had been brewed on their side of the pond.

smiley - cheers
HN


Not just British

Post 11

Pastey

Each year at the Great British Beer Festival, or Great British Trade Show as it's become known, but that's a seperate arguement/rant, there's a good showing of Stateside beer.

Also a plus for it is that the two types of bottled beers making an in-road into the UK market at the moment are Eastern European ones and ones from the US. The eastern european ones I've tried so far are far from palatable, unless you like the taste of a dog relieving itself in your mouth, but most of the American ones were rather good. Foremost among the ones I've tried definately have to be the Flying Dog Ales, very tasty indeed and proof that not all American beer is like making love in a canoe.

smiley - rose


Not just British

Post 12

Baron Grim

Oh, indeed. As I said, some of those made by the Real Ale company are quite tasty, as are some of the Flying Dog's. Sam Adam's and New Belgium breweries are getting very popular by brewing a good selection of different ales, stouts and lagers. We're also seeing a better selection of British and European beers available that were unheard of a decade ago.

I remember walking into a bar in Austin, Texas in the 80's. My friends and I decided to split a pitcher. The waitress asked if we wanted "chocolate or vanilla?" After seeing our confused expressions she elaborated: did we want Shiner Bock or Budweiser. Well, we hadn't had Shiner Bock before but we all agreed we'd rather not drink piss. The Bock became my favorite beer for several years. Until it became ever so popular. The Shiner Brewing company was once known for making "the cheapest beer in Texas". That's not to say it wasn't good. Shiner Premium, a lager, was pretty nice as they go and definitely better than the very few others brewed in Texas, like Pearl smiley - yuk or Lone Star. They started marketing their bock to the urban and college crowds and found a winner. Then something horrible happened. The price of Shiner Bock went up. Now I was paying import prices for a beer brewed at "Texas' Last Independent Brewery". They even raised the price of what was "the cheapest beer in Texas" by renaming it "Shiner Blonde" (give me peace). They deny this but I'm convinced they altered their original brewing process for the Bock around 1992. It was now hugely popular even at the inflated prices and to meet production, I suspect they started using some shortcuts. It still tasted about the same, but it gave me horrendous two-day hangovers. I thought I was just getting older, but I spoke with several people over the years who also noticed the same effect around the same time.

Anyway, since then, the variety of beers (recent TABC tomfoolery aside) has improved greatly in the last two decades with a beer drinking public that now expects something more than two flavors of beer to choose from.


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