Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: Why Cask Ale Rocks

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Why Cask Ale Rocks

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: (Glyn- bar manager) (Mark- beer writer) (Kelly- brewer) (Mark- homebrewer)


  1. Isn't the challenge more about getting people to understand different styles and flavours, rather than focusing on one mode of dispense?

  2. You wanna try harder for that ASBO, they're quite the fashion

  3. @Zak Not if you feel that cask is the way to get the best out of different styles and flavours?

  4. I agree with you in general Zak- there's none more keen to try new and unusal beers than me. However, I have realised that a lot of young women who drink beer are put off by Cask ale. It could in fact be the 'mode of dispense' that causes this lack of enthusiasm in some people. A lot of young people are attracted by the groovy glasses and the shiny point of sale neon, rather than the drink itself. The point I was trying to make is that yes, drink beer, and if you drink beer, don't be afraid of trying a Cask ale just because it has an old fashioned looking pump clip.

  5. ProfessorPie-Tin26 October 2010 at 18:13

    I like.
    Passion without repetition.
    But who or what the fuck is Deadmaus ? Is that how you feel the morning after you've been pissed as a rat ?

  6. You're on a mission to comment on these posts Zak!

    @RealAleGirl I think you're right, many people are put off by the mode of dispense (Pump Clip Parade might go some way to explain this!). In my humble opinion there are still relatively few breweries appealing to a wider base of prospects and one area that doesn't help them is their bar presence (although they are perhaps somewhat hindered by infrastructure and mechanism of most bars).

  7. Shea - a fair point, and I'm not questioning your passion. I guess your turning my argument on its head and saying that people shouldn't focus too much on mode of dispense. Which also ties in with what Tandleman says, I think.