Friday, December 01, 2006


Real Ale Delivered

"CAMRA says this is REAL ALE", according to the label on this lucky bottle from The Oakleaf Brewing Co. CAMRA's definition of a 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."

Needless to say, few Norwegian breweries seem to bother- the nationwide Ringnes brand is pumped dead and directly into the basements of country's bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, these establishments seem hooked on this simple golden fluid, as it is the oil in their financial machinery.

In contrast, Hole Hearted from The Oakleaf Brewing delivers. This hazy amber real ale pours with a medium-sized foam and smells of citrus and caramel with a hint of dough. Good bitterness and citrus flavours, but also some balancing earthiness. Body is light without feeling watery. Made from 100% Cascade hops (and thus(?) termed an American Pale Ale on it deviates from the strict Goldings and Fuggles hops regime that seems to rule the English craft brewing scene. Refreshing that is, in my opinion- keeping traditions alive is important, but they should not become straight-jackets.

The bottle was delivered from the Real Ale beer shop in Twickenham, which is whole-heartedly dedicated to English real ale, though with a natural emphasis on ales from Southern England. Nice as the place is, especially if you do the walk from nearby Richmond train and underground station, it is still quite far from the city centre of London. For those of us who sometimes have to combine beer tourism and business travel, it can be difficult to make Twickenham part of the program. Luckily, therefore, Real Ale, operates a good online shop with updated inventories and can deliver (in multiples of 12 bottles) to your hotel. Not only is it convenient, the delivery price hardly scares a national of Ringnes country thirsting for real ale.

The Real Ale beer shop combines a good head for new business with a whole heart for traditions.

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