The topic of this month's The Session: Beer Blogging Friday is Cask-Conditioned Ale. In addition to inviting beer bloggers to contribute, I reached out to non-blogging beer folk (yes there are many!). This personal reminiscence is from Joe Gold.
Just after I graduated from college I was hired by the English Sports Council to help promote lacrosse in Britain. At that stage I had not discovered cask conditioned real ale. But that was soon to change.
Over the course of the next 3½ years I discovered the wonder and diversity of cask ales all over the British Isles. I learned the cask ale process, how important a cellarman is and how to discern a fine pint of real ale. I also ran across the SPBW crowd and I became a life member of CAMRA. One of my favorite cask ale remembrances however is from the Young’s Brewing Company (before I was hired by them to represent Young’s in the USA).
One of my duties with the Sports Council was to travel to London for one week every month. On one of my first trips to London I discovered Young’s Ales and found out that they actually owned and/or operated (at the time) 135 Young’s pubs in every borough of London. The brewery was based in Wandsworth SW 18. [That facility was closed in 2006.] I also discovered that the brewery produced a printed list of all of their pubs – and if one were to visit every Young’s pub on the list they were entitled to the following; a VIP tour of the brewery, membership in the 135 Club, a commemorative 135 tie and, best of all, a pin of Young’s Ale for home consumption.
You didn’t have to twist my arm very far to get me to take up that challenge – and I knew I would see much more of London – including its less famous parts - along the way. I would also get the chance to see and meet the “real” people of the wonderful city of London.
The look on my face at the brewery, when I had completed my VIP tour and was picking up my pin of Young’s Special ale, was priceless. The tour of every Young’s pub had given me a unique and special opportunity to learn by osmosis what cask conditioned real ale was all about – and how intertwined real ale is into the fabric of British culture.
I haven’t described just one pint of ale here – but many. And I have sampled countless pints of real ale since my days living in England. But picking up the pin of ale at Young’s Brewery is still to this day one of my fondest cask ale memories
Joe Gold is a founding member of the Chesapeake Branch of the Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood (SPBW), one of the few branches outside of the UK. As the General Manager in the mid 1990s for Maxs on Broadway —a taphouse in Baltimore, Maryland— he instituted a weekly beer tasting session, called The Beer Social, which continues today. In 2009, he and others organized that city's very successful Baltimore Beer Week.
The Session: Beer Blogging Friday is a monthly event for the beer blogging community begun by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer, and co-moderated with Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.
On the first Friday of each month, a predetermined blogger hosts The Session, chooses a specific, beer-related, topic, invites all bloggers to write on it, and posts a roundup of all the responses received.