My buddy Trevor and I have been talking about hosting a real ale party for a while. We finally decided to pull the trigger and enlisted a couple other home brewers. The result was a four pin (each pin contains 5.4 gallons of beer) party with 40-50 guests.
Traditionally, cask beer is all about drinkability. With that in mind, we decided to brew relatively low abv beers. Up first, Trevor brewed a poundable raspberry wheat clocking in at 5.8%. He was shooting for under 5% but he added so much raspberry that he gained an entire percent. Next, I brewed a 3.7% pale ale inspired by the en vogue New England style IPAs. Christian brewed a traditional 5% British Strong Bitter (or ESB). And finally, Justin brewed a fabulous 5% horchata stout.
One of the great aspects of real ale is its freshness. Because the beer is low alcohol, you can push grain to glass pretty quickly with very little “greenness” you’d pick up from bigger beers. The result is wholesome and fresh tasting beer that is a delight to drink. None of these beers were a month old. The nose on the raspberry wheat exploded with raspberry and the pale ale showcased ample dry hopping. Another week of age on either of these beers would have produced an inferior beer.
Real ale only has a shelf life of a few days after the cask is opened for service. Whatever we didn’t drink, we would have to dump at the end of the night. We were fully ready to dump a few gallons. We didn’t think we could get through 21+ gallons of beer during a 4-hour party. 40 people and 21+ gallons, you do the math. The first pin kicked just over 2 hours in and all 4 were kicked before 4 hours was up. All the beer was gone. Victory.
As usual, the local home brewers and craft fans, showed up with mountains of quality food. So much great food.
One of the fun debates in the real ale world revolves around the use of a sparkler (I’ll post a summary of the debate in the next week or so). We encouraged everyone to try each beer with and without a sparkler and see if they formed a preference. The consensus was that the sparkler did indeed to change the beer. Two of the beers, the raspberry wheat and the bitter were generally agreed to be better without a sparkler and the pale and stout were better with the sparkler on. What struck me was that the preferences were almost unanimous.
Another great home brew party. We will definitely throw another one of these before the year is out. Thank you to everyone who brewed, cooked, drank, and help in other ways. We have a great community here in Arizona. Cheers!