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Old 11-13-2006, 08:26 PM   #1
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Default CAMRA / "Real" Ale

I spent some time browsing through the CAMRA web page earlier today. Admittedly, I had never heard of this organization before though I am familiar with the cask-conditioned process. What struck me about CAMRA is what I perceive to be a condescending, arrogant and overly political set of beliefs that do not seem to jive with the beer / homebrewing community that I am familiar with.

First off, CAMRA lost me at first glance with this whole “Real Ale” name. It is simply absurd. They could have chosen to simply call the beer that they cherish “cask conditioned ale” – which is what it is. A simple, descriptive and accurate name. Instead, they needed to call is “Real”. They induced opinion into a name. (You could say that they, in effect, force carbonated the name for their beer. They did not let it naturally ferment. ) Regardless, this is so arrogant that it amazes me that people are willing to buy into this! Do they really believe that they alone have the authority to deem what beer is “real” and what beer is “fake”? I mean, if I cook up a 5 gallon batch of beer, bottle condition half of it and keg half (force carbonating it) then I only got 2.5 gallons of REAL BEER? It is just a stupid, divisive point. And where do they draw the line with evolving methods of production and technology? As I mentioned in a previous post, do they practice Real Medicine (no anesthesia, sanitization, modern equipment pushed on the doctors by the big insurance corporations), Real Transportation (animals) and Real Communication (no telephones, no email, no internet that The Man could control)?

To me, this is a direct parallel to the all grain VS. extract brewing eternal argument. There are definitely arrogant people out there who insist that extract brewing is not brewing (it is, therefore, FAKE). I believe it was The Bird who said, in response to this claim in a recent thread, “Homebrewers aren’t elitists.” I thought that was a great response, and an accurate one. What makes this CAMRA organization so, well, elitist? And militant. Their web page makes them come across like the NRA.

Don’t get me wrong – I am definitely interested in cask conditioning. I think it is fascinating and also important to understand why some still like to use this process. I’m all about historical methods of brewing. I am more reacting to CAMRA’s wording and high-horse attitude, not necessarily their interest in cask conditioning.

....Maybe there is some sort of cultural translation I’m missing here, but I doubt it. I’ll say what I said before, they simply come across as Real A**holes.

Interested to see some others take on this.

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:37 PM   #2
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I don't know much about CAMRA, but the site does seem a bit arrogant, in true Brit fashion.

But take a look at their definition:


"Also known as "cask conditioned" beer; the fundamental distinction between real and other ales is that the yeast is still present in the container from which the beer is served, although it will have settled to the bottom and is not poured into the glass."


Sounds like...every beer I've ever made.

But I feel you---these guys sound like the kind of people Papazian warns you about: those that get too serious about beer and brewing. Once you get too serious about it, you've defeated the purpose of it in the first place.

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:39 PM   #3
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Try a cask conditioned ale sometime.

They are no big deal.

They put the beer in huge wooden casks that only allow a small amount of co2 pressure to build up. The resulting beer is mildly carbed. The they serve the beer without using co2 to push it. they use plain air or gravity to serve the beer. As a result it gets exposed to oxygen.

The oxygen exposure takes the beer through a rapid degredation which makes for a very interesting brew since it tastes different everyday.

I guess that is Ok if you like to drink different beer everyday. I am partial to the way my beer tastes and I want it to taste the same everytime I pour a glass.

So....cask conditioning is for the birds.

"Real Ale" lovers can usually tell the age of the beer by the way it tastes.

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:51 PM   #4
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Doug, by their own definition, any brew that is naturally carbonated is "Real Ale". They don't specify that it has to be aged in a cask.

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.planned:
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.primary | bright:
98: Moss Hollow Soured '09 72: Oude Kriek 99: B-Weisse 102: Brett'd BDSA 104: Feat of Strength Helles Bock 105: Merkin Brown
.on tap | kegged:
XX: Moss Hollow Springs Sparkling Water 95: Gott Mit Uns German Pils 91b: Brown Willie's Oaked Abbey Ale 103: Merkin Stout
98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)
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Old 11-13-2006, 08:55 PM   #5
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yep, but that is the technical definition. They are referring to cask conditioned ales.

They are just stuck in the past. They are adhering to a style that was created by the absence of modern refridgeration and Bottled CO2.

They also say a real ale is served from the container that still contains yeast. Most bottles that contain homebrew are "Containers that you serve from that contain the yeast".
So whoppity do!

Hell, all of my kegs have yeast in the bottom when I clean them, so my Ales are "Real Ales"!

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:59 PM   #6
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Hmm?? I am not sure how to respond to this thread, but I have a very different take on this issue, and I don't want to pi$$ anyone off. Oh well . . .

First of all, CAMRA's guidelines suggest that all of our homebrewed beers which are bottle conditioned would be considered "real ale." So, we can be assured that their snobbery would support our own snobbery in terms of what classifies as CAMRA-approved. Of course, this would not apply to the force-carbonating that most of us keggers do. They would, however, at least be a little satisfied that we don't filter our beer - well, some of us don't.

As for the snobbery part. You must be hanging out with a different set of homebrewers than I have been, b/c there is a bit of snobbery in what we do [before the flaming commences, let me remind you of the inclusive pronoun I just used - i am including myself]. After all, just mention BMC around here and you'll see the snobbery. Go a step further and claim that BMC is not a low quality beer, it is just a "new" style of beer - american light lager - and even more snobbery will emerge. I would wager that most of us have snobbed it up when sitting around a table having beers with our non-brewing friends. We can't help letting our brew-knowledge emerge, making subtle remarks about what our friends order and its relative quality to other "good" beers, etc. Call it hubris, but I suspect that most of our friends call us beer snobs.

One more thing - what is your take on the Rheinheitsgebot (sp?)? After all, here is a piece of legislation that dictated how brewers could make beer. I believe that one incarnation of the law actually regulated the force carbonating of beer - it had to be done naturally. I see much affinity between this traditional German beer law and the spirit of CAMRA.

Oh Oh Oh . . .just one more thing. If you get a chance to have a good cask conditioned real ale . . . the difference is noticeable and profound, IMO.

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Old 11-13-2006, 09:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougjones31
yep, but that is the technical definition. They are referring to cask conditioned ales.

They are just stuck in the past. They are adhering to a style that was created by the absence of modern refridgeration and Bottled CO2.

They also say a real ale is served from the container that still contains yeast. Most bottles that Contain homebrew are "Containers that you serve from that contain the yeast".
So whoppity do!
Yeah . . . who do they think they are . . . upholding tradition and all. Losers.

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Old 11-13-2006, 09:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonvolt
One more thing - what is your take on the Rheinheitsgebot (sp?)? After all, here is a piece of legislation that dictated how brewers could make beer. I believe that one incarnation of the law actually regulated the force carbonating of beer - it had to be done naturally. I see much affinity between this traditional German beer law and the spirit of CAMRA.

They can force carb beer by capturing the co2 from the fermentation process and storing it in tanks to force carb with. The co2 is then a natural byproduct of the actual fermentation of the beer and they can reuse it.
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Old 11-13-2006, 09:09 PM   #9
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The CAMRA hompage has this on it.......Because the yeast is still alive, the process of fermentation continues in the cask or bottle on the way to the consumer ensuring a fresh and natural taste.


That is misinformation and BS. When fermentation is complete the yeast is dormant and is not going to do anything to keep the beer fresh.

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Old 11-13-2006, 09:10 PM   #10
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This is a quote from CAMRA's website:

Quote:
Real ale is a living fresh beer that undergoes a natural second fermentation in the cask. Like any natural product, the beer will age and go off, and therefore must be drunk within a strict timescale. It requires care in handling on its way to the pub, and care within the pub to bring it to perfection. However, real ale can reach its full flavour potential, without filtration, pasteurisation and added gas.
I guess that I don't know how any beer drinker could be dissapointed in a consumer advocacy group whose purpose is to ensure that consumers can get a "natural product" which requires "care in handling."

On the other hand, the alternative is mass-produced, pasteurized, big-brewer product . . . which the market shows us that most people prefer.

OK . . . I'll shut up now.
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