New England Real Ale Exhibition 2008

Cask conditioned beer is real beer.

Cask beer is unfiltered and unpasteurised, secondary fermentation is done directly in the fermenting vessel. These style beers are served in the 55 degree range and have much smoother carbonation due to the secondary fermentation period. CO2 and Nitrogen are not added to draft these beers, handpumps and gravity spigots are used.

I was lucky enough to make it in the door at the 12th annual New England Real Ale Exhibition. I was actually the last person let in, the thirsty mob behind me was kind enough not to attack me. Inside the small hall offered some of the worlds finest cask beers available to you for a mere $5.00 door entry, refundable $5.00 glass fee (our take the loss and keep the glass.) Tasting prices were as follows: pint $5.00, 1/2 pint $2.50, 1/4 pint $1.50.

Some highlights included:

Wachusett Brewing Co: Ryde
Very smooth, extremely drinkable or session-able as they call it, this beer is also flaked with rye for a slight rye flavor. Very nice.

Rogue Ales: Brutal Bitter
refreshing, floral, hoppy.

Moat Mountain: Spruce Tip Brown
This was the most unique of the day, a malty brown ale which was dry hopped with SPRUCE TIPS. It wasn't
overpowering like pine sol, it was strange but did work well.

Gwynt y Ddraig: Haymaker medium cider
This was my favorite of the day. I am a huge cider fan and this was the best farmhouse style cider I've ever had in my life period. Oak conditioned, such a ripe, fresh, apple taste, not overwhelmingly sweet, almost herbal undertones. I went back for seconds and was proud to say I got the last one.

Put down the bud light and drink a real ale.


joseph said...

That must have been wonderful. The spruce tip brown sounds intriguing; I've actually been thinking of trying to make Sahti, a Finnish beer brewed with juniper berries and and strained through juniper branches (which are harder to find, naturally, than the berries unless you know where to final a tree).
The only rye beer I've tried is the Hop Rod Rye and I think the rye is masked by a lot of hops. It's good, I just didn't really get the rye flavor.

I've just tested my first batch of ale, an IPA, and have some cider (actually almost a cyser since there's a little honey in it) in my basement that'll soon be ready for a second (and final) fermentation. I was surprised at how well the IPA came out -- it's fresh and hoppy and has a nice haze that unfiltered ales often do.

Neen said...

Hun. I never knew that about cask beer. Thanks for the insight. Oh and great photo at the beginning of the post. Very artsy.

Trevor said...

I brewed a clone of Rogue Dead guy ale, we'll see how it turns out.

Joseph, I'm always interested in ANY Scandinavian food items...

Neen, make sure you try some and let me know how you like it. Thanks for the photo comments.

Jenn said...

Hey Trevor -

Ben and I just returned from a week in Ottawa. Fun city. We love Canadian brews and had a delicious organic microbrew from Beau's Brewery (http://www.beaus.ca/). We loved this beer so much that we actually drove to the brewery last Friday to check it out. The brewery is about an hour away from Ottawa. It was a lot of fun.

They are a small operation that wants to stay small - aiming to serve primarily Eastern Ontario right now.

Great stuff and great packaging - the beer is sold only in 750 ml bottles or Growlers. They were sold out of Growlers so we had to settle for the smaller bottles. They even have a "brewed on" date and you have to drink the beer within a month.

You can also buy the beer at some of the LCBO's in Eastern Ontario. The LCBO's are the provincial liquor stores.


Trevor said...

Hey Jenn,

I've never heard of Beau's Brewery but after reading their website I want to try it. Seems like a high quality product.

I've only made it to Toronto and Montreal in the great north, hopefully I'll make it to Ottawa and Vancouver next time Canada calls!!

Jenn said...

Trev -

Vancouver totally calls. I've never been west of Toronto in Canada. I would also love to go to the Canadian Rockies. Banff looks amazing.

Yeah, we never heard of Beau's either. If we're at a restaurant and Ben sees a beer he has never tried, he wants to try it. We wanted another beer on the menu, but the pub had just switched out their taps, so the waiter recommended Beau's and it did not disappoint.

If you find yourself by my house sometime over the next few weeks, drop in and sample it. It'll be gone within the month because it has a use by date.

I also liked a Molson product - Rickard's White. I think it was new for summer. We couldn't find it anywhere on sale at either The Beer Store or the LCBO - it was there but it was only cold and a cold case of beer just doesn't travel well back to the States.

If you make it to Halifax, Nova Scotia, I recommend the Alexander Keiths India Pale ale brewery tour (http://www.keiths.ca/). This is a bigger brewery, but they sell a product that is really only available in Eastern Canada. According to the folks we met in Ottawa, any Alexander Keith beer sold in Ottawa isn't brewed in Halifax. So you want to get the stuff brewed in Halifax.

Canada has some great beer. Ontario has The Beer Store - a rockin' concept.