Drinking event education time! So there are beer fests... convivial gatherings of good folks just looking to enjoy a number of quality beers... and then there are drunk fests... all-you-can-drink-in-3-hours shit shows that attract the frattiest of crowds looking to get hammered in as little time as humanly possible. Of course, there is usually some overlap. Even the most high-minded events can draw the attention of slovenly drunks whose only question to the servers about their beer is, "Which one has the most alcohol?"
As an avid consumer of all things booze-related, it's hard for me to criticize anyone on their personal consumptive habits, so I just choose to avoid the worst of these, thus keeping my shoes relatively free of puke. However, there are some occasions where even I have to put decorum aside and frolic like a school girl (poor analogy for a drinking column?) amongst the taps. One of these just happens to be coming soon... the Spring Real Ale Festival at Pratt Street Ale House.
What sets this celebration apart is that vague terminology, "real ale". Doesn't sound like much, right? Isn't all ale real? Or are we usually drinking "imaginary" ale? Well the actual definition stems from the British belief that everything should be done the old-fashioned way*, which is obviously better. In the case of real ale, this means the beer is cask-conditioned... carbonated naturally inside the serving container... and served at cellar temperature (~55F). This results in a softer carbonation than kegged brews and, without filtering or pasteurization, an arguably richer flavor. Often preferred by the geekiest of beer geeks, and decried as "warm" and "flat" by others, this real ale is being served exclusively at the festival.
So, what we will encounter on Saturday, April 28th from 1-6pm (starting at noon for VIP tickets) is a true beer lover's paradise. Somewhere around 25 casks of real ale will be available from some of the best breweries around, including all the local favorites. For only $40 (regular ticket) or $60 (VIP pass), you can sample as many as you like. Plus this year, there will also be a bull and oyster roast to keep the imbibing masses fed (and, hypothetically, slightly more sober). Truly nirvana on earth!
And you know what? You don't have to be a certified "beer geek" to enjoy this event. If you have an open mind and an appreciation for some good, quality brews, you should give it a shot. The amount of sheer awesomeness you can imbibe in one afternoon will rarely be matched... and it just might open your eyes to a whole new way of drinking. Just leave the beer pong balls at home** and take your time to savor the suds. You just might find you enjoy having clean shoes at the end of the night.
- What: Spring Real Ale Festival
- Where: Pratt Street Ale House
- When: Saturday, April 28th from 1-6pm
(VIP happy hour from Noon-1pm)
- How much: $40 advance / $50 at the door / $60 VIP
- Sponsor: Chesapeake Bay Branch of SPBW
- Participating Breweries: Oliver Breweries, Breckenridge, Brew Dog, Brewer's Alley, Brewer's Art, Pub Dog, DuClaw, Evolution, Firestone Walker, Flying Dog, Flying Fish, Heavy Seas, New Belgium, Old Dominion, Oskar Blues, Stillwater, Stone, Troegs, Weyerbacher, White Marsh Brewing, Yards
Hope to see you all there, drinking well with me...
*FYI: I love the Brits, and their beer. Just poking a little fun at the fustiness of it all...
**Also, I have no problem with beer pong, or drinking games in general. Just not something you want to experience with a cask of Brew Dog Paradox (Isle of Arran) - a 10% stout aged in scotch barrels.