About Real Ale
What is real ale?
the early 1970s CAMRA coined the term ‘real ale’ to make it easy
for people to differentiate between the bland processed beers being
pushed by the big brewers and the traditional beers whose very existence
was under threat.
Drinkers have a wide choice when it comes to real ale as the term
refers to a style of brewing rather than a specific drink. Many
pubs and brewers use the term real ale to describe their beers,
but, just to keep you confused, they are also called cask beers,
cask-conditioned ales or even real beer! In the pub the huge majority
of real ales are served using traditional hand-pulls, rather than
through modern fonts, but there are some exceptions to this, so
if in any doubt, just ask.
What makes real ale ‘real’?
Real ale is a natural product brewed using traditional ingredients
and left to mature in the cask (container) from which it is served
in the pub through a process called secondary fermentation. It is
this process which makes real ale unique amongst beers and develops
the wonderful tastes and aromas which processed beers can never
What’s the difference between ‘ale’ and other beers?
are a huge range of different beer styles, each with different qualities,
tastes and strengths, but each falls into one of two main categories;
ale or lager. The key difference between ales and lagers is the
type of fermentation. Fermentation is the process which turns the
fermentable sugars in the malt into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Lagers are made using bottom-fermenting yeast which sinks to the
bottom of the fermenting vessel and fermentation takes place at
a relatively low temperature. Authentic lagers then undergo a long
period of cooled conditioning in special tanks. Ales, which includes
bitters, milds, stouts, porters, barley wines, golden ales and old
ales, use top-fermenting yeast. The yeast forms a thick head on
the top of the fermenting vessel and the process is shorter, more
vigorous and carried out at higher temperatures than lager. This
is the traditional method of brewing British beer.
further about real ale...