Last Saturday, David and I attended Get Real NY–a Cask Beer (and food??) Festival. Alternatively termed “real ale”, cask ale/lager is served in its natural state–unfiltered, unpasteurized, and without the added carbonation that traditionally helps beer move towards its destination–the tap. And just as with wine, cask ales are treated with fining agents that bind to the unfiltered sediment and drop to the bottle of the cask, making for a clearer drink. Served at room temperature with light carbonation–a pure result of fermentation–cask ale was once a beverage for the masses, when bottled ales were reserved for the upper class. Nowadays, “real” ale is a treat, its presence at any bar a sure indication that one has arrived at the gates of beer lover’s heaven.
Organized by Patrick Donagher of Rattle N Hum (a craft beer bar, which I embarrassingly have yet to visit!), Get Real NY was a pretty sweet event. Entrance came with tasting notes, so that one could pick and choose discriminately, without having to attempt the lot. And despite the thick crowds, we never had to wait more than 30 seconds for a pour. The staff was fabulously efficient. (How I LOVE efficiency!) And there were buckets for dumping. My only complaint was the food, as there wasn’t enough of it, and too much emphasis was placed on sweets…Serving me beer? Deliver me savory!!!
Since I’m a big fan of bitter, I went straight for the IPAs. Give me hops, skunk, and grapefruit pith, and I’ll smile my way through the day. Tasting in tandem, we fell into a sort of system with David a few casks ahead of me, offering praise or warning for the ales that lay ahead. And even still, despite such efficiency, in three hours, I got through fewer than 40 ales.
A few of my favorites with short notes:
Sixpoint ‘Bengali Tiger IPA’–Love Sixpoint! Bengali Tiger drinks like a wine, with complex layers of funky citrus and a bitter finish. Brooklyn, NY.
Sixpoint ‘Missionary’–“A very limited West Coast style IPA”…pale and cloudy amber in color. Minerally and musky with a bit of (I know this sounds gross…) urea/ammonia, and sweat. Brooklyn, NY.
Smuttynose ‘Star Island Single’–Aromas of a vegetable drawer that hasn’t been cleaned in a while…notes of celery, flat citrus, and Stinking Bishop cheese, with a bitter, vegetal finish. Portsmouth, NH.
Stone ‘IPA’–Wow! Smells like skunk. Kind with a bitter finish and joyful. Escondido, CA.
Barrier ‘Ruthless Rye IPA’–Delightfully hoppy nose, grapefruit pith finish with a bitterness that lingers…Oceanside, NY.
Castle Rock ‘Harvest Pale’–Light and refreshing yet cloudy and chalky with a touch of citrus. Nottingham, England.
Flying Dog ‘Doggie Style Pale Ale’–Barnyard funk with a bitter and slightly charred finish. Frederick, MD.
Much thanks to Patrick for the pass and all others who helped organize/facilitate the event.