Cask ale is important to each of us in very different ways. In this collaborative blogging effort Mark (beer writer), Shea (young female drinker), Glyn (bar manager), Kelly (brewer) and myself say why it's important.
Some people paint pictures and draw sketches, some paint their toe nails green, some sing and dance and play the guitar whilst others knit jumpers and stitch clothes. Creativity is a characteristic we share; there within all of us it lies, for some more eager to show itself than for others, it lies and it waits. From global hit record to origami swan, that creativity must find an outlet; for me it found that outlet in home brewing.
Irrespective of image and perception, the fact is that an immeasurable number of ingredient and process combinations mean a myriad of possible flavours and aromas. Far from being boring, brown and bitter; cask ale is a living, evolving product for the true connoisseur. Hop varieties in their hundreds become the colour palette of the brewer, hewn over a canvas of malt to produce anything from a deeply rich and robust coffee stout to a zingy, light, citrus-packed golden ale.
Good cask ale is carved out of the best raw ingredients through the application of knowledge, skill and creativity. For the drinker it provides a spectrum of flavour more than comparable with wine; there’s a beer for hot summer evenings, cold winter nights, to accompany your favourite food or for a special occasion. It’s a drink that offers new depth and complexity as appreciation grows, it’s a drink that changes with the seasons and that matures with time. Beer is a drink devoid of pomp and arrogance, it knows no sense of material worth, the most expensive world class beer costing a fraction of the equivalent wine. Beer is here for drinking, nothing more, nothing less.
As a home brewer, beer provides me with a platform on which I can unleash my imagination. With access to raw materials of the same quality as the professional, I can conjure up any flavour combination I like, burning up every last joule of that eager creative energy. The enjoyment and pleasure I get from a pint of good beer now extends beyond merely drinking it.
Gillian Orr asserts that “your tipple of choice can say a lot about you”. Well let that be the case. Let cask ale define me as a person that puts flavour on a pedestal, concerned with what’s in the glass, not what’s around it. In Britain we’re experiencing a brewing renaissance; when I go to the pub, I know what’ll be in my glass.