Friday, February 5, 2010

The Session #36: One Lonely Night, Away from Home

For this month's Session on Cask Ales, Tom Cizauskus of Yours for Good Fermentables gives us many suggestions and passionately encourages us to "Make it a sad story. Make it a love story. But ... make it!"

I look back on my first cask ale rather wistfully. I was all alone, away from home, in a San Diego beer bar called The Neighborhood. Peering at me from behind the bar, its tap hiding only slightly so I would notice without it seeming obvious, was the lone cask ale selection, a special release of Stone Brewing's Pale Ale with coriander. Feeling awkward, but intrigued, I signaled my interest to the bar tender. When the beer came over, I didn't quite know where to begin or what to say, but understood this beer had been in this situation many times before, and knew exactly what to do.

I knew of Stone's careful balance of aggressive flavors in their beers, so was expecting it to be assertive and aggressive. So was taken by surprise how the cask conditioning created a lightness and subtly to its caress, of how willing it was to please. With its slight floral nature and savory character, it performed tirelessly in so many different ways, never losing its balance or place. After what seemed like hours, the hops finally kicked in, bringing the taste to an amazing climax well beyond what I ever imagined possible.

I've picked up a few other cask ales on lonely nights since then, but for some reason, none has equaled the first one. I've tried in vain to look up my first cask ale, but alas, it is nowhere to be found.

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