CAMRA Approved Pub…Not Behaviour!

The…Central London, England.

Mr. Happy at a pub in London.
I asked for a taster of an ale and then, having liked it, asked and was served two pints of the same sampled cask ale.

Nice brew. Spey Valley IPA at 4.6 per abv., with a malty start and then the hops kicked in with abandon. A very fine brew. Please, don’t blame them!

The initial exchange was less than cordial, a disapproving grunt at best.

So. Mr Happy. Why are you so out of sorts?

<The verbal bits imagined as the barman was unable to speak!>

Well. Let me tell you.
As if you will listen?
First. You want a free taster. And then. Having had that. You expect me to pour two full pints.
And then you expect change from a tenner.
And then you expect me to be cordial after all those demands!
You people are beyond belief!
You fuckin’ foreigners!
Bloody hell!
Make my life miserable, or what?
Thanks so much!

“Love you too!”

Obviously, a pic would give it away!

 

CAMRA GBBF Winners Announced!

176Champion Beer of Britain 2015

CAMRA are pleased to announce this year’s Champion Beers of Britain as follows:

Supreme Champions

Supreme Champion Rosette - Gold

Gold 
Tiny Rebel – Cwtch

Silver
Kelburn – Jaguar

Bronze
Dancing Duck – Dark Drake

Mild

Mild Rosette - Gold

Gold
Williams Brother- Black

Silver
Rudgate – Ruby Mild

Bronze
Great Orme – Welsh Black

Best Bitter

Best Bitter Rosette - Gold

Gold
Tiny Rebel – Cwtch

Silver:
Highland – Scapa Special

Joint Bronze:
Barngates – Tag Lag
Salopian – Darwin’s Origin

Speciality

Speciality Rosette - Gold

Gold
Titantic – Plum Porter

Joint Silver 
Kissingate – Black Cherry Mild
Saltaire – Triple Chocolate

Bronze
Hanlons – Port Stout

Bitter

Bitter Rosette - Gold

Gold
Pheasantry – Best Bitter

Silver
Acorn – Barnsley Bitter

Joint Bronze
Purple Moose – Madog’s Ale
Timothy Taylors – Boltmaker

Golden

Golden Ale Rosette - Gold

Gold
Kelburn – Jaguar

Silver
Adnams – Explorer

Bronze
Blue Monkey – Infinity

Strong Bitter

Strong Bitter Gold

Gold
Dark Star – Revelation

Silver
Salopian – Golden Thread

Bronze
Grain – India Pale Ale

Champion Bottle-Conditioned Beer

Bottled Beer Rosette - Gold

Cask Conditioned Ale Making Its Mark

203

Real ale, or cask conditioned ale, in the U.S. and Canada is still catching on but not to the same extent as in England, and for good reason. There isn’t the cask conditioned ale heritage in the U.S. and Canada that there is in the U.K., and in North America, brewers and pub owners are still learning the intricacies of handling and serving real ale. The English never totally lost real ales, as had happened on this side of the Atlantic, though cask conditioned ales were in serious decline in Britain when the Campaign For Real Ale, CAMRA, began the turnaround in the early 1970s.

Pubs on this side of the Atlantic, even the pubs imported lock, stock and barrel from the U.K., never seem to quite come up to being a real English pub. Is the real ale good on this side of the Atlantic? Yes, some of it, very good, actually. And it would seem brewpubs offer the best way for a brewer to ensure cask conditioned ale is properly maintained from brewery to glass. As an example, The Granite Brewery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, deserves to survive and thrive because it unerringly offers fine pints of cask conditioned ale. Indeed, some English visitors agree, the Granite sells some of the best pints of real ale they’ve had, outside of England, that is. And to me that’s high praise coming from the Brits.

Admittedly, real ale has latched on to my palate. I prefer the more rounded, full flavour of a cask conditioned ale to a gassed-up filtered beer, though, of course, there are always exceptions. I always drink best available, whether it is cask or keg. If I don’t like a malty brew on offer on cask, I will turn to a hoppy keg or craft beer.

But certainly not all real ale is good. Muddy beers passed off with the ubiquitous, ‘that’s the way it’s supposed to be, or taste’ have ruined a beer experience for more than one adventurous beer drinker in North America. For example, at Chicago’s Goose Island Brewing Company a cloudy, yeast laden IPA with no hope of the much anticipated hop bitterness surfacing, caused me to quickly switch to Goose Island’s Honker’s Ale, a fine pint of filtered ale.
I remember seeing but did not chance drinking a muddy, unfiltered HefeWeizen served in a Portland, Oregon, brewpub that could have floated a sand barge and yet this identical beer populated many nearby tables. I accept the haze factor for this style of beer but not to this extreme. The same brewpub did a credible job of fining its real ale, a slight haze was not uncommon, but my friend, a brewer who once brewed real ales at the former Godson’s Brewery in London, England, preferred the filtered version of the same cask ale I was drinking.

Disappointment also came from the cask conditioned Scottish ale offerings from the much heralded Highland Brewery in New York City, obviously before it closed, where, after a light refreshing 2 Penny Ale and a somewhat thin 60/Dark Mild, which had hints of underdeveloped character, a persistent graininess in the Ben Nevis 80/Brown Ale and a cardboard staleness in the Highlander Special Bitter followed. Is it any wonder the public did not take to these unappealing and ill kept beers? Is it that surprising that the brewery closed? And yet, hardly anyone wants to talk about the downside of real ale and the microbrewery industry.

Will real ale catch on in North America? In time it will find favour with some, a niche product for those beer drinkers lucky enough to be situated near a place where the beer is kept in good nick. Certainly, groups such as CASK! Toronto have helped to make in-roads in that city for the brewers who are willing to go the cask ale route.

But for me there is still nothing quite like visiting an English pub for the right atmosphere for having a pint of cask conditioned ale. Call me spoiled or spoiled for choice, it’s all fine by me.