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

Monday 22 November 2010

The Tale of The Real Ale Girl and the Psychic Cellarman

Lewisham Wetherspoons. Friday, 9pm and I have the distinct feeling thre is a psychic about. One who can read into the depths of my dreams and who, for some reason, wants to make all my wishes a reality.

At the official end of  the latest Wetherspoons Real Ale festival, I had had 39 of the 50 beers. A memorable evening around The City's selections kicked it off, followed by several trips to our locals, Lewisham and Lee Green. We made a couple of stop offs in Mark Dredge's haunt Tonbridge, spent an evening in our wedding venue The Knights' Templar (where I was given a festival T-shirt which I am going to turn into the coolest bag around) and finished it all off on the last official day of the fest with an eye opening (and nostril torturing, in some) Northern Line JDW crawl. And with that, I thought it was over and I'd get all ticked off in my Good Beer Guide, with Wadworth's stunner Pixley Blackcurrant Stout getting my vote for beer of the festival.

But lo and behold- the wizard that is the Lewisham cellar manager must have snuck a peak over my tasting note booklet and decided to reward me for getting through another week with five festival ales. Four, beautiful, untried, pristine pump clipped ales that I had not yet ticked off in my guide. (I say ticked-the black paper made ticking impossible, so I used glittery little star stickers, making my fest notes more glam than Cheryl Cole).

Okay, so I understand neither Mystic Meg nor Professor Dumbledore were skulking outside Primark and Iceland on Lewisham High Street on Friday night wating for me to appear before running into 'Spoons and bewitching the mnager into putting my need-to-try beers on. I admit that deep down I know that they have a tactic of ridding their festival beers from the cellar to make way for the rather exciting looking Christmas brews. And also being able to charge 30p more for them post-fest.

But I'm going to indulge myself in the fantasy that we were being rewarded for trudging from pub to pub, clutching our untickable tasting notes on bus, tube and train, only to find the same three beers on as in the pub before. The fantasy that if you look hard enough, work hard enough, wish hard enough, you may just find what your looking for, even if it is just a beer called Black Squirrel.

Monday 8 November 2010

The Good Beer Girl

I write as the Real Ale Girl. I am a member of CAMRA, I tick off every ale I drink in my Good Beer Guide and cask ale is my drink of choice 99.9% of the time. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you will undoubtedly be aware that I'm just a little bit keen on real ale. So, yesterday, I moseyed on over (well, ok, I took the Northern Line, but moseying sounds more jolly, it's raining out there, we need cheering up) to the brand new Euston Tap: an ingeniously renovated architectural beauty stocked to the very atmospheric rafters with beers. Beers of such variety, origin and type that even a very hard to please Real Ale Girl had her mind well and truly boggled. Of course, we started on the cask ale. We tasted the wares of Bristol Brewing Co., Marble, Bath, among others and we compared the 10% Brew Dog Paradox to the very limited edition 9% Thornbridge Bracia and decided the Thornbridge boys won hands down. And then we moved on to the rest; a rather marvellous rest; huge accessible fridges stocked with the rare gems and firm favourites, and witty range of taps (indescribable- you'll have to go), serving an intriguing mix of draft beers from around the world. When I say we moved on to the rest; we actually managed about 5 more between us, it was a Sunday after all. Darn it, we'll just have to go back.
After The Why Cask Ale Rocks collaborative posts, we got many comments about why we stuck to cask- 'isn't it just a method of dispense?' etc. My response to this is that Belgian/ Czech etc etc beers don't need promotion, they don't have an image problem in the way real ale does in this country. However, overwhelmingly, it seemed from people's comments that there is an assumption that  being passionate about Cask Beer means a deep hatred and spurning of all other types of beer.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post featuring the Draft House bar in Tower Bridge. A respected blogger and hugely experienced real ale drinker posted  a comment saying it was disappointing there was only one real ale when he went to visit. On my own visit I experienced this too, but took it as a great opportunity to try something different and have become a little addicted to German Rauchbier ever since.
Real Ale Husband plays football 3 times a week. But he also loves a good tennis session and is rather good at cricket. Real Ale Brother used to DJ and loves house music. But he can also regularly be found watching The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and saw Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney this summer.
And occasionally, I like to drink beer that isn't cask.
Cask Beer is not always good beer. It's not a secret that I find several of Greene King's beers quite undrinkable and would rather have a vodka if they are all that's on offer. The pub I frequent most Friday afternoons with colleagues does such a bad job of looking after its cask beers that I usually, embarassingly, end up on Strongbow. Good beer is good beer. Well kept beer is well kept beer. Cask beer is cask beer. That is all. Sometimes, those three happen simultaneously and the result is orgasmic. But sometimes, just sometimes, even a Real Ale Girl can find joy in a bottle that has travelled halfway around the world and tastes of pumpkin, not a cask in sight.