Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: September 2010

Thursday, 30 September 2010

A small step for real ale-kind... A giant leap for a John Smiths drinker.

Monday saw the launch of The Cask Report 2010 and I found myself in the heart of Brew Wharf for the shindig. Well, it was more of a presentation, but when I'm drinking ale and sneaking more than my fair share of canapes with the bigwigs of the UK's beer industry, I'm in shindig frame of mind. It did feel a bit like stepping into an edition of The Publican, but all the pictures were alive and talking to me.
(The delightful Jo Theakston from Black Sheep and I pondered what life would be like if a bomb fell on the venue: we'd all have to be drinking Guinness.)
But have no fear- the gravitas of the report wasn't wasted on me. Sitting next to Marverline Cole (aka Beer Beauty, who I want to be my new best friend) I contemplated the lack of real ale in the O2 despite it being the biggest entertainment venue in Europe and the fact that I met a woman the other day who refused to accept a free sample of real ale, saying 'I don't drink bitter.' She was drinking John Smiths.
I sincerely agree with Maestro Brown (Pete, by the way, not Gordon/ Bobbi/ Derren) that educating folks about Cask Beer is key to its continued growth. People don't hate the stuff, they just don't always consider it worth a try or understand why it’s such a special drink.
Which is why I was delighted to see exactly that education going on in one of my local Wetherspoons (oh yes, I'm lucky enough to have two within ten minutes walk from my gaff.)
This is a pub that could reap the benefits from ale educating; not lectures, nothing forceful, but friendly, free exposure to real ale’s delights. The pub itself does well with ale- they have regularly changing guests from an exciting range of microbreweries. They organise brewery tours and advertise ale events on behalf of others. So some people here must drink it. I just seem to always be at the bar next to the person who is ordering Tuborg and yet more John Smiths. It’s not a particularly glamourous area, lots of punters come to the pub alone and its really not the most stylish or inspiring of joints.
So, on a miserable Wednesday evening, in the midst of a power shower level downpour, just what everyone needed was a bit of a freebie and some friendly banter. It came in the form of a meet the brewer evening with a lovely chap from Hogsback and some dapper gents from Itchen Valley. Punters approached with inquisitive intrepidation- some were regular cask drinkers, others were after a free drink. We all sampled the wares, discussed the beer, compared the breweries’ artwork,  enjoyed the raffle (Real Ale Brother securing tickets for the Hogsback fellow from Sainsbury’s over the road) and admired the stylish shoes bedecking the feet of Gary and Mark (not from Take That, but Itchen Valley). It was low key, it wasn’t groundbreaking, it won’t make a massive impact on the market value, but if it just makes one person switch from John Smiths, just once, and helps turn 8.6 million cask ale drinkers into 8.7, then it was worth the boys making their rainy journeys.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A very important arrival

The nights are beginning to draw in sooner, the mornings are a bit crisper and we have just had gammon for dinner. It must be Autumn. But I don't mind. And not for the reasons you might expect (chestnut ales,  a multitude of marvellous ale festivals, being able to wear your favourite cardigans...).
No. These are all glorious reasons for celebrate the arrival of the season of falling leaves. But none bring me as much joy, as much tingling anticipation, as much sheer, erm, delight as the sublime feeling of a pristine, factory smelling, uniform paged, unspoilt spine of a new Good Beer Guide (picked up from the sorting office after an agonising two weeks).
Blog will go on a back burner, emails will be ignored, texts will lie unreplied to, skincare regime will suffer, and washing up will sit festering (actually, this is always the case, new GBG or not.) There is important updating to be done.
With each page turn of the beautiful Breweies section, tanatlising teasers spur me on. Which breweries are no longer listed? Which previously unlisted beers are now included? What ticked beers have disappeared? What's my total tally this year? Not to mention all the thrill and excitement of flicking through the pubs section (which Real Ale Husband dutifully maintains now that I spend more time on beer ticking than sleeping.)
So, I'm off. Off to get on with it all, giving my ticking hand repetitive strain injury and potentially casuing Real Ale Husband to wonder whether he made the right desision when he said 'I will' in August. And, of course, to forlornly fondle Roger Protz's signature in last year's edition for a few more times before the tome goes to GBG retirement home (underneath the coffee table.)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A real ale girl's guide to weddings

So due to popular demand, having been married for a month and one day, here is the ultimate 'nuptiale' guide.

 How to realaleify your wedding:

1. Choose a pub for your reception which will let you select the ale. And taste it. And pay you lot of compliments on your choices. Ours was the stunning Knight's Templar in Chancery Lane, which got almost as much praise as my dress.

2. Create your own tasting badges to go with said beers- e.g. dark and fruity, a bit like us.

3. Ask your favourite, friendly local brewery (in our case, Brodies Beers) to brew up a special beer for the day. Proudly display your personalised pump clip (in our case, featuring a London bus in-keeping with our other theme) and plug it mightily throughout the day.

    4. Make serving the first pint of your special ale be as important as cutting the cake. (Which incidently had hidden pint glass shapes and a sneaky CAMRA logo.)

    5. Get commemorative pint and half pint glasses created to serve all the beer in and allow your guests to take them home as a souvenir. (Tip: keep about 100 for yourself- if you are anywhere near as clumsy as me, you'll smash, on average, one every 3.2 days.)
    6. Find a beer related 'favour'. (In our case, personalised beer mats/ pump clips as coasters, matched to the person's name/ job/ personality etc. A hell of a lot of work, but well worth it. (By the way, thank you to The Southampton Arms, Kentish Town, The Admiral Hardy, Greenwich, Wetherspoons Lewisham & Greenwich, Bexley Beer Festival Tombola Men, The Alleyn's Head, Dulwich, many folks on Ebay and course, The Knight's Templar for supplying them. You'd have thought they were gold plated by the ripples of joy spreading round the tables as people discovered them.

    Why you should realaleify your wedding:
    • A longer lasting bar tab (ale is bargainous in comparison to wine)
    • Very happy musicians (if they are a 70 year old 60's band as ours were)
    • A more gradual rate of drunkeness (weaker than spirits) meaning you abd your guests can enjoy more of your special day and be more likely to remember it all.
    • Tons of wine and vodka drinkers discovering the joys of ale because they wanted to try the 'special wedding beer'.
    • Merry people who don't get aggressive (who does on real ale?)
    • A microbrewery being discovered by a massive pub chain.
    • Fabulous quirky photos (who normally gets to pull a pint of their own beer together as newlyweds?)
    The Real Ale Girl and the Real Ale Husband are available for wedding/Christening/BarMitzvah realaleifying. Oh, and if anyone is after hundreds of beers mats/ pumpclips, I'm your girl. There were quite a few that were too boring for our guests.