Expand your U.K. IQ: The tale of ale
British pubs often have a row of traditional hand pulls dedicated to a selection of beers commonly known as “real ale.”
Real ale is popular among Brits because of its unusual brewing process. Throughout the year, there are numerous beer festivals that celebrate the process, in which ingredients are left to mature in metal or wooden casks as part of a secondary fermentation. The result is a fresher, better-tasting pint of beer, according to the Campaign for Real Ale Web site, www.camra.org.uk.
CAMRA, a movement of devoted drinkers, made up the term “real ale” in the early 1970s to distinguish its pride and joy from other bland processed beers coming out of big breweries, according to the CAMRA Web site.
The idea behind typical keg beer is to provide a way to store brew that can either be drunk right away or stored for longer periods. To do this, the beer is chilled and filtered to remove all the yeast, and pasteurized to make it a sterile product, the Web site explains.
These processes, however, leave their mark by removing the beer’s flavor and character. The beer is then infused with excessive carbon dioxide to help dispense it from taps. Also, keg beers are sometimes served very cold to disguise their lack of taste, the Web site added.
Other names for real ale are cask beer, cask-conditioned ale and real beer. Styles of this type of beer can range from malty, lightly hopped milds to dark and bitter stouts and porters.
CAMRA estimates that there are more than 500 brewers producing around 2,500 ales in the country, the Web site said.
One of the most well-known real ale producers is the Greene King Brewery, based out of Bury St. Edmunds.
The brewery ferments the most popular real ale in the country — Greene King IPA, which is described as having a fresh, hoppy taste and clean finish, according to www.greeneking.co.uk, its Web site.
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