2014 has been the year of the cask in Orange County. With events like Firkfest (held by yours truly), many local breweries bought cask hardware to participate. Noble Ale Works is taking it a step further by taking the party back to its pale British nubs: nerdy British-style real ale served at proper cellar temp in the Anaheim tasting room. A refresher:
- Real Ale = Beer served from the vessel it finished fermenting in. Carbonation is provided naturally from the yeast (bottle, can, keg or cask conditioned).
- Not Real Ale = Force carbonated beer in a brite tank with carbon dioxide gas, then packaged fully carbonated.
Several local beer festivals in 2014 (including Firkfest and Nobles 3rd anniversary party) partnered with Inspire Artistic Minds; a non-profit aimed at helping professionals grow in the culinary world. Brewers Evan Price and Brad Kominek applied for scholarships with IAM and got their artistic minds INSPIRED, like SO HARD. They travelled all over England and Belgium and all bloody hell broke loose – they brewed pub ales that don’t make it across the pond; using UK ingredients and serving techniques.
Our efforts to make the perfect English pint go a step further with this set of three beers. We brewed a Strong British Pale Ale utilizing Simpsons Golden Promise Barley, added UK East Kent Golding Hops and split the batch between three small tanks. Each batch was fermented with a different English yeast strain and then dry hopped differently as well. All three will be served on nitro with each one spending some time on cask. – Evan Price, Head Brewer
The beers are closely related, but totally different:
- The Knowle Spring – Fermented with the Timothy Taylor house yeast and given a medium dry hop with UK EKG.
- The River Thames – Fullers yeast and a light Fuggles dry hop.
- The South Down Wells – Gales Brewery yeast and heavy UK Progress hops.
- English 201, British Mild and Irish Red are on top and on deck.
Simpsons Golden Promise malt lays the groundwork for these three strong pale ales. Lemon zest and crackers dominate these dangerously gulpable beers, as do the yeast and hop nuances of each. I had the pleasure of comparing The River Thames cask and nitrogen versions side-by-side, the latter being a relaxed memory-foam mattress version of the cask pull. The cask version is notably brighter and layered with yeast, malt and hops like neapolitan ice cream. On nitro the experience seems a bit squished together, but is still very satisfying if not compared.
Drinking pint over pint of each, The South Down Wells wins my vote with a balanced fruity hop flavor and aroma I expect from a traditional pint in England. At 4.6%, these are notably stronger than the average British Bitter Ales. Will American tastes know the difference? Probably not. A true British pub ale is in the 3.2-3.8% range, but as Evan noted, “people don’t buy the low alcohol versions,” hence the bump with these.
These beers are sessionable, authentic and served at proper cellar temp. Every so often, you’ll see a bartender measure the temp coming from the cask to ensure its drinkability.
Soon, Noble will unleash a Mild and an Irish-style Red. Stop in and check out a few pints!