And all across the land...
It’s a riot of flavour out there, and it ain’t just targeted at those sporting beards and sandals. So says award-winning writer Pete Brown of the world of real ale in this year’s Cask Ale Report, just published.
As Cask Ale Week kicks off for 2014, we hear that the UK now has treble the amount of breweries it had at the millennium, and cask beer remains the jewel in the crown.
Otherwise known as ‘real ale’, due to the fact that it reaches the pub with just the right amount of live yeast to give it a friendly sparkle, it’s not the easiest drink to get right from cellar to glass. But plenty of pubs, bars and restaurants do make the effort, and this is the week for you to check them out.
Events, dear boy (& girl), events
With literally dozens of breweries hosting events and brewing beers specially for the Week, plus 100s of pubs getting involved, the best thing to do is to visit the Cask Ale Week website to choose where to head.
Use the Find a Pub facility to home in on what’s near, or get hold of the Cask Ale app on your mobile.
Brew your own
Before I give you my Top 10 – here’s a challenge you won’t want to miss: your chance to brew with the Crafty Dan brew team at Thwaites. Fancy doing that? All you need to do is email your ideal recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sun 5 October. (Good luck!)
Here’s my Top 10
For the duration – Thurs 25 Sept – Sun 5 October
1 Free beer
Free pint of CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain, Timothy Taylors Boltmaker, at 100s of Punch pubs. Download your voucher on the Cask Ale Week site.
And the Daily Telegraph is pairing up with Punch pubs too in offering a free pint voucher, on Sat 27 Sept.
2 New brews
There’s a goodly number of special beers brewed for Cask Ale Week, and among those making their debut is Old Nutty Hen, the long lost relative to Old Speckled Hen from Greene King.
No doubt the Fox will be happy – seen here mulling over the prospect with head brewer John Bexon.
3 London’s Tattershall Castle
London’s iconic floating bar and its fellow pubs across the country has not one but six weeks of activities, including Buy Six Ales Get One Free (not all at once, we hasten to add!).
Follow the action on twitter and facebook at @ProudofourAle.
4 Across the nation
Not 1, not 2, not 22 – 95 Stonegate pubs are hosting beer festivals. And 75 Thwaites pubs too. And dozens of Wetherspoon, Taylor Walker and Chef & Brewer pubs too.
For details, try out the Find a Pub option on the Cask Marque website.
5 Fullers – Mad Bishop & Bear, London
Beer Sommelier of the Year Jane Peyton has put together a fabulous London brewers’ Beer Festival at this Paddington Station pub. Thirteen brews will be available over the course of the week. From Brixton Brewery to Windsor & Eton's moreish Conqueror Black IPA, from Crate to Cronx, from Truman's to Portobello.
6 Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight – Fri 26 Sept – Sun 12 Oct
Marvellous chance to taste the effects of hops in their most naked sense – that is, in a green hop beer, so-called since the precious little cones with all their aromatic molecules haven’t been dried
This year there’s even a lovely little map showing you where all the breweries are, and The Goods Shed in Canterbury will be showcasing – and sharing – plenty of foodstuffs all cooked with Kent Green Hop Beer in mind.
7 Sat 27 Sept – Bangers on the bus
The Palmers Brewery beer bus is in Bridport, and open for action from 10am to 5pm. Hop aboard to sample the ales and tempt yourself with sausage buns - the buns have been baked with Tally Ho beer.
8 Fri 3 Oct & Sat 4 Oct – Food & Beer Matching
Want to find out more about what goes with what? On Friday, Woodforde’s head brewer Bruce Ash leads the way with beer and food matching at The Brewers’ Table, held at The Fur & Feather, or hop over to Moorhouse’s Brewery in Burnley to hear beer sommelier, Annabel Smith at 2.30pm on Saturday.
9 Sat 4 Oct – Tour de Palmers
The second year of this cycling event, put together by the ever energetic head brewer, Darren Batten, taking in several pubs around Bridport, with the first three prizes being copious quantities of fine Palmers ale.
10 Sat 4 Oct – Old Ale launch
Harveys kicks off the launch of its new seasonal brew, Old Ale, with a service of Thanksgiving at the St Thomas a Beckett (patron saint of brewers) Church behind the brewery, before returning to the courtyard, to sample the “old Nouveau”.
And (really) finally, one beyond Cask Ale Week, but thought you’d like to know:
Fri 10 Oct – Chocolate & Beer
Hook Norton is teaming up with Dea Latis to host a beer and chocolate evening, 7-9.30pm.
Tickets cost £7.50, with a third going to Leukaemia Research