Friday, February 05, 2010

Homebrewed Real Ale

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 (and, yes, they are many).

The following is a contribution from Wendell Ose.

Writing this as the first inch of an expected 20 inch snowfall begins to accumulate here in the DC burbs of northern Virginia and borrowing the melody from 'Frosty The Snowman', I author a new lyric, "There must have been some magic in that firkin cask we found 'cause when we drank the ale inside we began to dance around."

But wait, there's another song to screw with, "I've never been to England but I kinda like the Real Ales. Up here In NoVa, not Arizona, what does it matter?"

I'm ashamed to admit it but I've never been to England although I've had the pleasure of drinking plenty of imported cask ale that has made the trip here to enlightened DC bars as well as 100s of homebrewed real ales and a few local pub-brewed commercial examples over the last decade. I've been homebrewing for 17 years and many of my creations have been brewed in the cask ale tradition.

Ose & Funnell
Wendell Ose (l); Nick Funnell (r)

I've had the good fortune to win homebrew club Brewers United for Real Potables BJCP sanctioned Real Ale Championship in 2000 and 2007. The 2007 winning beer, an English Mild Ale, made me eligible to enter the 2008 GABF Pro-Am Competition in Denver. English ex-pat Nick Funnell, head brewer for local Great American Restaurants' Sweetwater Tavern, allowed me to brew a 15 barrel batch with him that advanced to the final 6 beers of 58 GABF entries from around the US. I based my recipe on one Nick had contributed to a Brewing Techniques Magazine Beer Styles article back in the 90s.

My homebrew club, The Wort Hogs, has its 4th Annual Real Ale Party scheduled later this month so I brewed two ales for that event this week, a Best Bitter and a Northern English Brown Ale, a sweet version that's a close cousin to my Mild Ale. (Btw, recipes and process info available on request.)

I love to brew real ale as much as drink it, probably because of my short attention span. You can brew one today and be drinking it at its peak in 7 to 10 days. Now that's fresh beer and freshness and liveliness are what cask ale is all about. A well made, Ordinary Bitter at about 3.5% ABV, naturally and lightly carbonated can be magic in a glass, magic in a bottomless glass for that matter since it seems like you can drink them one after another and still walk/drive away safe, sound and feeling good all around. If you're drinking a lovely English-style ale and it seems like you simply can't enjoy enough of it, chances are you're drinking a cask ale at its best.

Find one or brew one, and as The Great One [the late Michael Jackson, the beer writer] suggested, "do it a favor and drink it."

Wendell Ose is an award-winning homebrewer, and an avid supporter of local breweries.


The Session #36: Cask-Conditioned Beer
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.

More here.

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