The Real Real Ale Experience

Last October I went to my first CAMRA festival. Not knowing much about casks I wasn’t so much interested in learning about casks and more interested in tasting them. The festival, NERAX in Haverhill, was a great success and opened my eyes and taste buds to a “new” (to me) style of beer. Whether it’s the low carbonation or the low temperature that keep people away from it, I learned to enjoy the taste and focus on the flavor of the ale.

Since then I tried casks everywhere I went. It’s following has left a mark on our little town, with 2 bars carrying a cask or two and others seeming open to the opportunity. When I had booked my trip to Dublin/Dewsbury/London with my girlfriend she mentioned that there was a beer festival in Dewsbury. It was a CAMRA sponsored event. When the day came for it I went and it was much like the experience at Haverhill in MA, but felt more proper a location to be having Real Ale, in the land of Real Ale. Nevertheless I still needed the REAL Real Ale experience. To the pub I went!

I arrived at Brewers Pride in Dewsbury. Packed to the walls with Quiz Night folks, I make my way to the bar with my friend and look at the options. Nine cask ales from local breweries in the area with a handful of permanent taps from around the world. Never have I seen this many casks in a bar. Needless to say I was excited.

We started making our way down the list. Starting with a stout and then a mild followed by a bitter. All the while, I am looking around the pub and listening to the loud (and mostly incoherent) chatter of the locals, slandering the quiz night host over the tough questions. To my right, locals ordering pints of Real Ale without hesitating about ordering another macro-brew draft selection. This was the experience. I had been in a pub before during a semester abroad but I admit I was not educated in Real Ale at all back then.

You don’t have to be a beer blogger to appreciate an experience like this. This being a daily occurrence for the locals, I became jealous. This is how beer was intended to be, real. I would love to see more in our area, and it’s coming. The CAMRA movement in the US is huge and soon bars that used to not have a cask will soon do so. Big thanks to JT from Smuttynose for introducing me to the CAMRA world, without that initial push I wouldn’t be as excited to try more Real Ales.

In conclusion, I have had Guinness in Dublin, Tsingtao from a bag in Qingdao China, Becks in a Berlin dance club, and now I can say I had the Real Ale experience in a local pub in the UK. Pretty cool. I guess I should make a beer bucket list.