Real Ale in a Bottle

(or... some of the best fun you can have with your clothes on)
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Tins are for beans, not beer!

Real Ale is available in bottles,
and is a thousand times better than the industrial substitute.

Read the label carefully,
look for the magic words "bottle conditioned"
or a reference to a yeast sediment.
Become a beer snob! It's worth it!

Real Ale in a Bottle, or "bottle-conditioned" beer,
does what it says on the bottle.

It still has live yeast, so it matures to produce a sophisticated taste.
Infinitely superior to cans or to mass-advertised pasteurised beers, it offers a quality experience.
Look for the magic words on the label!

The Beginner's Guide to Real Ale in a Bottle

1; Buy some.
This might not be as easy as you would like.
Most off-licenses and supermarkets stock only a few (or possibly no) examples. You have to look around for discerning outlets, and then spend a little time reading the labels to make sure you are not being fobbed off with an inferior pasteurised bottle.
Don't be misled by wacky names; if you are not sure and there is no reference to yeast sediment or bottle conditioning, give it a miss.

2; Put it away.
Keep the bottle upright in a cool place (not the fridge; that's too cold) for two or three days.
This will let the yeast settle at the bottom of the bottle after its journey home.
One exception to this is Wheat Beer, which is meant to be cloudy. The yeast remains in suspension.
This makes it a good choice for taking round to friends, as no time is needed for it to settle)

3; Pour it.
This takes a little care to prevent too much head being created. The aim should be to get all of the beer into the glass at the first attempt, with no overflow, and with no sediment going into the glass.
I use the following method.

Take a pint glass (oversized if you can). Rinse it in cold water and shake out the excess water, but do not dry it.

Place the bottle on a firm surface and remove the cap slowly. If there is a lot of life in the beer, let the excess pressure escape before removing the cap entirely. The occasional example of a particularly lively beer may erupt, and it might pay to be near the sink.

Raise the glass to near eye level, and tilt it through about 45 degrees and raise the bottle to the same level.
Do not let the bottle touch the glass; it may not be clean.
Have you seen those people drinking out of bottles? Yuk.

Tilt the bottle so that the beer begins to pour onto the sloping surface of the inside of the glass, not far from the rim.
After a little practice, you will be able to do this away from the centre-line of the glass, so that the beer has the gentlest possible arrival in the glass.

Watch out for head formation as the beer starts to fill the glass.
Too much foam means either you are going too fast, or the beer is exceptionally lively. In either case, this means that it is going to take longer.

As the beer level rises, begin to tilt the glass back to the vertical, but only when you have to.

Watch also the amount of beer remaining in the bottle. You will need to leave a little behind, as it contains the yeast sediment.

If you have done a good job with this piece of theatre, you will have a perfect glass of fresh natural real beer, with no more froth than necessary.

4; Enjoy it.
We tend not to go for the pretentious sniffing and spitting out business. Just enjoy the aroma of hops and malt and then drink to your heart's content.
If you find the beer is too gassy for you, take a tip from me; use a clean implement like a fork or a spoon, and stir it up to release some of the dissolved gas created by the fermentation. Some beers have more of this than others, and how you like it is purely a matter of your own preference.

Real Beer at home is
~ perfect for parties and barbecues (cheaper than wine and infinitely better than tinned fake beer)
~ discerning and hospitable to have in when friends come round
~ delightful with every kind of food
~ wonderful and relaxing in front of the footie or a video.

Now a request from the Editor.
I would like to advise our readers where they can find bottle-conditioned beers for consumption at all those parties and nights in front of the footie on the telly. I know that we have a couple of committed off-licences and that supermarkets to a greater or lesser extent realise that their customers want a quality product. However, my knowledge is patchy. I need you to be my eyes and ears.
So, whenever you spot Real Ale in a Bottle, let me know, (by phone, E-mail or post) and I will pass it on to our readers. I would appreciate news of new outlets, and updates on the ones we know.

The definitive guide to Real Ale in a Bottle

The sixth edition of the Good Bottled Beer Guide is available from the CAMRA web-site. It shows that Britain’s craft brewers now produce nearly 800 tasty examples of Real Ale in a Bottle including lagers, beers brewed with honey, fruit beers made with damsons or cherries, stouts and porter primed with port, beers made with exotic hops from all over the world, and even one beer with no hops at all.

Editor, Jeff Evans said: ‘Most of these bottle-conditioned beers are produced by Britain’s smallest breweries. They are hand-crafted beers, brewed with imagination and integrity and bring with them a taste of their home region. They are the beer equivalent of a farmhouse cheese or an independent baker’s bread. It’s not easy to get hold of small breweries’ beers in many pubs, as most pubs are tied to beer supplies from big, international companies, but visit a specialist beer shop, drop into a regional craft centre or wander around a farmer’s market you’ll find plenty of good, honest beers at remarkably good value prices.’

Copies of the Good Bottled Beer Guide can be bought at CAMRA Beer Festivals or online. If you still have difficulty finding a copy, contact us, and we‘ll order one from our Head Office. We spoil you!

All contents copyright 2009, Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA Branch.
All rights reserved. Last Revised: November 18, 2017
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