By Charlie Allen
Stoke Newington’s local pub, The Snooty Fox held It’s Brim Oop North Festival in February serving Real Ale from the North of England. The pub is part of the CAMRA campaign which supports locally brewed ale, and put on two festivals each year in February and October.
What is ale?
Ale and lager are the two biggest categories of beer. Most people would find it hard to differentiate between the two, but ale is fermented at room temperature, whereas lager is made at colder temperatures. Ale is also made from a slightly different type of yeast.
The Real Ale Scene
“Real ale is really happening at the moment. We’ve been open since 3pm and it’s already nearly full so it’s a great start to the festival,” says Nicole Gale, the owner of the pub which was passed down from her parents in 2008.
The four day festival presents a wide variety of ales from Northern Ireland and this also ales from micro-breweries – breweries which produce a limited amount of beer. They vary from 3.5% to 6% alcohol strength, and have different colours and styles. The ale needed a lot of preparation and monitoring before it could be served. Gale continued, “We tried to get at least four or five beers that are special, and that people can try for the first time.
“I love ale because you get so many different flavours. For example we have a cappuccino stout which has a coffee flavour.”
Water makes up 90% of beer, as well as other ingredients including yeast, hops and malt. Gale says, “American hops are a lot stronger and the New Zealand hops are similar. Brewers are being experimental with different hops from New Zealand and America. British hops are harder to come by because their crops are never as good.”
Alex Rutherford, 35, bar manager says, “Roughly 80 tickets have been sold so far, it’s been a roaring success. We always make sure we have local ale for example from a Hackney brewery or East London brewery.
“We’ve had a lot of support from CAMRA and lots of members have come down. We are giving a discount to CAMRA members, so it’s £1.90 for a half and £1.75 for members.”
Listen below for the full podcast: interviews with the owner, bar manager and CAMRA members who attended the event.
How to store ale
John Bratley, 61, unemployed, used to work at the Wenlock Arms pub, which was also part of the CAMRA campaign. “I used to look after the ale in the cellar. I would have to make sure it would go out at the right time and was kept at the right temperature because it is a live product.
“Conditioned beer has to be stored for a few days before opening it, and then needs to be monitored to see if it is ready. Sell by dates have to be looked at because it will go off. If it’s opened and it’s not all sold then you are left with vinegar which you can’t sell.”
A specific cooling system was set up for the festival. Jonathon Tingle, 34, CAMRA member, says, “I got up on Tuesday at 7am to get them ready for today. They went through a conditioning process and some were ready and some weren’t. There’s a lot of work involved in maintaining ale and it’s a long process.”
Last February, fifteen female brewers created a collaborative beer called Venus Gold. This is the forth collaborative beer in their Venus Project, adding to Venus Jade, Venus Rouge and Venus Black. According to historians, beer has been around since 6000 BC and women used to brew it for the British household in the 1700’s. Beer brewing was taken over by men in monasteries and produced on a bigger scale.
— School of Booze (@SchoolofBooze) March 8, 2013
See photos and tweet Project Venus here: https://twitter.com/ProjVenusUKEire