Cask Conditioned Ale

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Unread postby gillmang » Tue Aug 02, 2005 7:22 pm

Beer more than many drinks is one of those serendipitous things. Recently I was tasting beer on my visit to Providence and had indifferent results. My last night we were in a nice restauarnt downtown and in my experience glitzy places don't usually serve really good beer. I asked about the local draft and was told they had the Pale Ale of Buzzards Bay (Massachusetts.). I said okay and it was the best pint I've had in a long time. Cool but not iced, very fresh but not green, with a complex biscuity (but not half-oxidised) taste underlined by what seemed U.S. hops but not the overdone citric (grapefruit-like) taste you offen encounter in the States (and Canada) in micro beer - in other words the perfect pint. Very digestible, too, I could have had three but one was enough. The only recent pint of similar quality was at Gingerman when I had an English real ale perfectly served, as if sitting in a London pub. Bob who homebrews and Mark know I'm sure what I mean, sometimes things just pull together for beer but it is much more chancy than other drinks due to beer's inherent fragility (all beer, even the more commercial brews).

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Unread postby Brewer » Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:08 am

Whenever you have an opportunity to try a Cask Conditioned Ale, go for it. It's a special treat. Last year, Nancy & I visited Blue Point Brewing on LI with some friends. Initially, they had 4 taps; this time it was 10. People go there to sample beers, and the samples are free! :beer: :drink: :partyman: And I'm not talking about any stingy samples either...you can get plenty of refills too. Anyway, last year they had a cask conditioned IPA. This baby wasn't free, but I HAD to try it. It was sooooo good. Its not to often I see CC Ale, but when I do, I buy a pint, or 2. :wink: :D
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Unread postby gillmang » Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:23 am

Bob, thanks, and again, Gingerman in mid-town. A must for the true English real ale experience. There is no substitute for those Fuggles and Goldings. By the way as I recall they don't even charge more for it, it is still $4.00 or $5.00 an English pint. Amazing. Gary
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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:49 am

By the way I just read up on Buzzards Bay brewery and that pale ale I liked is brewed (in Mass.) with English malts and hops only. See, that's why I liked it, those English ingredients beers just have great flavor and balance. And Buzzards Bay know how to brew, too, and don't pasteurise, so you are getting something very similar to what is drunk in the pubs in England with that beer. I am sure you can get it on Long Island in the bottle at least. If you can't get to Gingerman for a while, try that Buzzard's Bay, to me that is what true ale should taste like. I enjoy Sierra Nevada Pale Ale too and, say, Anchor's Liberty Ale (which started off the American Pale Ale phenom) but there is no substitute in my opinion for the original of the style and Buzzards Bay gets very close. So does Yard's (of Philadelphia) and the long established Geary's of Maine, but I thought that Buzzards pale ale was even more English-authentic than what those estimable breweries offer.

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Unread postby Brewer » Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:03 am

Gary,

Have you ever had Ruddles? It's a British brew, and I think its quite good as well. Also, Boddington's, Thomas Hardy Old Ale, Old Peculiar, to name a few. Good stuff all!
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Unread postby Mike » Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:40 am

I gots 2 bottles of the Thomas Hardy barley wine (11.2% alcohol) in the fridge awaiting the proper moment. My buddies at Sigman Bottle shop ordered it for me, along with some Anchor Old Fog Horn (surely one of the finest beers ever brewed.....I had it fresh once at the Anchor Brewery, even though fresh ain't always best in a barley wine, e.g. Bigfoot). Life was so good on that fine day in San Francisco!!!

My wife and I also found a little hole in the wall French restaurant that day not far from the Anchor brewery and we had a fantastic meal (a lamb sandwich that I will never forget!!).
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Unread postby Brewer » Fri Aug 05, 2005 12:41 pm

Mike wrote: Anchor Old Fog Horn (surely one of the finest beers ever brewed.....I had it fresh once at the Anchor Brewery.


Yeah Mike, Old Fog Horn is a super Barley Wine, especially with you can get it at the brewery! That must've been great. I've had it on tap at a NYC bar that I loved, but just found out that it closed...Brewsky's. I also enjoy it at home from a bottle as well.

Speaking of Brewsky's, their neighbor was another great bar...Burp Castle, which has also closed. Their's was a Belgian theme, and the folks that worked there were dressed as Belgian monks, the music was mellow "monk" music (whatever the hell that is, I just don't know how else to describe it). If someone was looking for a nice variety of Belgian brews, that was the place. Its sad that they're both gone though. :(
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Unread postby gillmang » Sat Aug 06, 2005 7:53 am

Bob, all the beers you mentioned are good English beers especially Ruddles County (in the green can). The Ruddles in particular has the true English taste. The Boddies is less good and is ruined in my opinion by the nitro widget, I dislike that effect with the sole exception of Draught Guinness. Also Boddies uses a very pale malt and is not that strongly hopped anymore, it is okay, it reminds me of a more assertive Molson Export Ale. Old Peculier is a classic, it has the black fruit-like ("damson plum") overlay some English beers have. But good as these are they are still filtered pasteurized beers. They don't offer the full richness and flower of English ingredients cask ale or a non-cask-but-close local draught beer like Buzzards Bay which uses English malts and hops. And if (when, I hope) you taste English cask ale at Gingerman you'll see the bottled English scene is quite different from English cask-conditioned beer.

On the other hand, when American hops are used in the right way the beers can be extremely good too. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the classic example. Its Celebration Ale, too. Recently in Buffalo, New York I had a great local ale from the Finger Lakes area, Canandaigua Lake Ale made by Canandaigua Brewing Company. It has a rich biscuity malt taste and the hops (with signature "grapefruit" taste) are woven in very skillfully. I don't like when that taste hits you over the head though and I find it can contribute to bad headaches the next day. But CBC gets it just right, these guys are pros and know exactly what they are doing. The beer tasted too like it may have been made from locally made malt and maybe the hops too (hops are being grown again in New York in a project to revive the 19th century hop growing culture there). So American ales are good too (the best of them) but the fresh Goldings taste you get in many of the classic English cask beers is quite different and unbeatable on its terms. It has a particular earthy/lemon-like taste. Ruddles County - when very fresh, check the best by date and make sure it is a year ahead or so - gets pretty close for a canned beer (we only get the canned one in Ontario). Sometimes I'll add the yeasty dregs from a local microbrew to my glass of canned Ruddles and it gets quite close to an English cask ale. Fuller 1845, again when very fresh, is quite close to some English real ales because bottle-conditioned.

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