Cask ale is important to each of us in very different ways. In this collaborative blogging effort me, Mark (homebrewer), Mark (beer writer), Glyn (bar manager) and Kelly (brewer) say why it's important to us.
I am not usually an arrogant person; colleagues and friends often say I’m quite self deprecating. But here goes anyway: I am fashionable. I am funky. I am hip (if you can still be hip having used that word). I have been on clubbing trips to Ibiza nine times, I can understand the appeal of both jeggings and jumpsuits (though have not chosen to wear either), I can name all the contestants on the last series of Young, Dumb, Living off Mum and shop for clothes around Spitalfields. I also happen to enjoy drinking Real Ale. Regularly. And I know quite a lot about it.
So how did this come to be? Isn’t ale just for beardy people? Isn’t it impossible to be a size 12 ale drinker? Don’t I have to hang out in dingy backstreet bars or country pubs to sup the stuff? Do I need to spend all my time with old men? Well, to put it simply, no, no, no, no.
I discovered Real Ale at university. The city I partied, studied and loved in for my four student years just happened to have a perfectly timed CAMRA beer festival at the end of the summer term exams. It was (and still is) held in a pair of marquees in a park by the river and was the perfect place for a student to kick off their summer. Everyone went. The beer wasn’t even that important; it was just somewhere outside, in the sun, where we were allowed to get drunk without getting a ASBO. We lasses mostly stuck to the cider, some played it even safer at the English Wine stand. And then, at the end of my third year, it happened. A friend bought me a pint of something so dark and thick looking I expected it to taste of marmite. My friends just expected me to throw-up; it was called Skullsplitter, after all. They held a collective breath as I stepped up to the dare. It was… well, sublime. Strong, yes, but still the most intriguing liquid I had ever tried. This made champagne feel like orange squash- there was so much going on, such depth, such flavour, yet still so refreshing. To the bemusement of my friends, who were used to me wearing pink boob tubes and dancing to S Club 7 at cheese nights (this was 2004, remember), I drank the lot. And then demanded they take me to pubs where I could try more. And maybe some that weren’t 8.5%.
I’ve never looked back. I love the fact that there is ale for every occasion; a 3.5% biscuity brown ale allows me to drink 5 pints on a week night and still wake up feeling spritely, while a cherry chocolate stout gets me in a party mood. But the best thing? There are no rules. You want a midnight black porter on the beach? Perfectly refreshing. A golden IPA on Christmas day? It goes really well with turkey. You want to drink a real ale while dancing to Deadmaus? Why the hell not. For me, Real Ale is about choice- choice for free-minded people, to choose to drink something exciting, something local, something crafted with love and care, something retro. Something...(dare I say it?)... Cool.
Check out Why Cask Ale Rocks from four more young cask ale lovers:
http://rabidbarfly.blogspot.com (Glyn- bar manager)
www.pencilandspoon.com (Mark- beer writer)
http://beerevolution.wordpress.com/ (Kelly- brewer)
www.beerbirrabier.blogspot.com (Mark- homebrewer)