Friday, February 5, 2010

The Session- REAL Ale

The Session is a monthly event, where one blogger poses a question and is consequently answered by other bloggers. This month's question was asked by Tom Cizauskas an Yours for Good Fermentables. His question is based around Real Ales or Cask-conditioned ales:

Cask-conditioned ale —or "real ale" as it is called, somewhat boastfully, by the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), a beer consumer advocacy group in the UK— is defined by that organization as

"beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide."

Viewers of this blog have read my opinions on cask-conditioned ale, and probably once too often. So, let's hear yours, and not only yours. Why not invite brewers and drinkers and bemused casked-spectators to contribute essays for the Session?
I have strong feelings toward all beers. Some I love, IPAs and Sours, and others I hate, smokes. One beer that can go either way for me are beers out of the cask.

One of the first things that I look for when I get to my weekly relaxation at Max's is to see what they have on cask. Their list is always amazing, and it is an hours worth of time just looking at the list and trying to figure out what you want today, tomorrow or never.

I am considered one of the knowledgeable beer people in my group of friends. Before moving to Baltimore, I would try to experiment with beers, but there was nothing there. Especially not a cask. My first few trips to the bar, it was unique seeing the hand pump, and thought, why would someone want this warm, uncarbinated beer? Then I tried it. I now know.

The beer on cask that really opened my eyes to what can come was a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid. I had never tasted a beer like that tasted. I had had Hop Stoopid before, and it is a great beer. But coming from the cask, it was like an explotion of pine in my mouth. No coolness to hold it back. The bitterness was there, but that was expected. I truly thought that I had a mouthful of pine cones. I couldn't complain.

From now on, I look for that next surprise beer that does something different for me, that can blow me away. I am not saying that all cask beer is good. Some of it was hard to drink, the warmth hurt it instead of opening up the flavors (at least that is how I perceived it). But it was different. If you like it on tap, you won't necessarily like it on cask. But it is a gamble I will take.


  1. Damn I miss Max's. Its been several years since I used to live in Baltimore and your post definately brings me back. The upstairs lounge was one of the best places to hang out with friends.

    Thanks for the post.


  2. Max's has been my beer joint for over 3 years. I don't remember a day where I didn't want to stop in.

    JW- If you get in town, I will meet you there for one.