With Real Ale Festivals held in abundant regularity around the UK I would be surprised to hear of someone who didn't know anything about Real Ale, but that doesn't mean everyone knows the difference between Real Ale and any other pub pint.
What makes Real Ale different from your bog standard pint?
Real Ale or Cask Ale is made with 3 main ingredients, Water, Barley Malt and Hops, Although Real Ale comes in many styles it is how it is made which makes it Real.
What makes Real Ale different is that it undergoes a secondary fermentation (in the barrel or even bottle). Which means live yeast is still kept in the barrel until it is served. No artificial gases are added when storing Real Ale and the natural Carbon Dioxide from the secondary fermentation lightly pressurises the barrel/cask, this also carbonates the brew and prevents it from going off as quick.
Many pubs around the country are starting to stock at least a few Real Ales and Local Breweries are at the forefront of the movement.
We headed down to our local (Real Ale) pub and had a few pints of the stuff. It isn't until you try a Real Ale after a normal (commercial Scale Pint) that you realise what you've been missing. The taste of a good strong Real Ale with its hoppy distinct flavours is a pleasure to the pallet.
Don't forget your Camra!
We couldn't talk about Real Ale without mentioning CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), in fact they were the one's that first introduced the name "Real Ale" In the early 1970s to make it easy for people to differentiate between the bland processed beers being pushed by the big brewers and the traditional beers whose very existence was under threat.
CAMRA was founded in the most Westerly pub in Europe - Kruger's Bar in Dunquin, Co Kerry, when four young men from the north west of England, Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Bill Mellor and Jim Makin were on holiday. Fed up the increasing bad quality of beer in Britain that was too fizzy, no character and no taste they decided to form a Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale.
A year after the founding the first AGM was held at The Rose Inn, Nuneaton; and membership started to grow. Articles by the late Richard Boston in the Guardian (Boston on Beer) boosted membership when Richard happened to mention the fledgling organisation CAMRA.
In 1973 to make the Campaign's name easier to say it was changed to the Campaign for Real Ale.
CAMRA now have over 95,000 members and numbers continue to grow - Although you don't have to be a CAMRA member to appreciate good Real Ale, CAMRA's actions have made Real Ale what it is today and without them we would all be drinking bland, tasteless, fizzy, processed beers.
All we can say - If you haven't tried Real Ale - Give a go, If your local doesn't have any... ask them why not.
You can find out more about CAMRA on their website: www.camra.org.uk