What is real ale?

Reading about a beer revolution in Britain we encounter still on the phrase “Real Ale. What conditions must fulfill the beer to be a “real ale? What is real ale?


The phrase real ale” was used officially by the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) in 1973 to distinguish traditionally brewed beer from the beers produced en masse by the big corporations. I mentioned this earlier in post about CAMRA.
They then defined the beer, which can be called “real”.


Real ale is a beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.”


These traditional ingredients are: water, barley malt, hops and yeast.


Tradycyjne skladniki - Traditional ingredients


In the process of secondary fermentation sugar is added to beer (in diverse forms), which then yeast transform to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Beer subjected to secondary fermentation is more cloudy and more substantial in flavour.
Such beer is saturated with CO2 in a natural way, because the most commonly reported by me ales are low-saturated, because not been added artificially carbon dioxide, and this characteristic should be considered as an advantage as most.

The most important condition to be fulfilled real ale is the one that has to be unfiltered and unpasteurized, must contain still alive, active yeast. A secondary matter is whether the tank from definition is cask or bottle.
Although of course much easier we can enjoy an authentic ale in the pub ( as called caskale, or otherwise caskconditioned beer) rather than from a bottle.

Bottled beers are usually subjected to filtration and pasteurization, so that they can have a long shelf life, and therefore no longer fulfill the conditions for real ale from its definition.


But I have to mention the multitude of home brewers. They are still brew their beers with traditional ingredients and frequently perform secondary fermentation in bottles or casks then we have a classic example of real ale.


Returning to casks directly from the barrel, in which takes place process of secondary fermentation, real ale should be dosed using a manual pump or by gravity dispense pouring just out from planted tap into the barrel (this second method are using frequently, eg. at beer festivals).
These methods of dispensing beer are traditional, are acceptable other modern methods of pouring, provided that ale fulfills all the conditions from definition of real ale.




And yet something must be mentioned.
To beer was real ale must be ale, or so-called beer of top-fermenting.
Due to the brewing process, beers can be divided into two types: lagers and ales

Lagers are beers of low-fermenting: the process occurs with yeast, which sink to the bottom of the fermenter and need to work a lower temperature (6-12°C).

Ales are prepared using other yeasts that require higher temperatures (18-25°C) during fermentation and accumulate on the surface of the fermenter to form a thick layer.
To ale we include such beers as: bitter, mild, stout, porter, barley wine, pale ale, golden ale, dark ale etc. and it is obvious that only beers from this group can qualify for real ale beers.


These “real ale” are really worth disseminating and deserving of attention.
Their palette of aromas and flavours is so enormous that there is no comparison to beer called lagers

All hesitant, drinking on a daily popular light lagers, I encourage to explore the world of ales. I am convinced that it will provide you incomparably more pleasure.


Ales - Image by Travel Junction
Image by Travel Junction


photo credit: Bourbon beer via photopin (license)

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