Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Real Ale Brewing, Handcrafted Ales from the Texas Hill Country

Brewing beer is my hobby. I enjoy brewing. You combine several ingredients, none of which you would consume on its own, mix them together, allow Mother Nature to process and produce a wonderful food. Yes, food and not a beverage. Budweiser, Miller, Coors and the like are beverages, barley pop. Good beer is food. Good beer has taste, aroma, calories, vitamins and active yeast.  The ancients considered beer a food for the masses.

Because of my interest, Deb and I drove to Blanco, Texas to Real Ale Brewing,, while I was visiting Austin. Real Ale was my first tour of a working microbrewery. I was impressed.

Before the tour, Real Ale lubricates you a bit. Deb, I and about 15 others congregated in their tasting room before the tour. We sampled many of their beers. My favorite was the Rio Blanco Pale Ale. This beer was smooth on the palette and a little hoppy.  Deb liked their Porter. We enjoyed all of their beers except one, Mystereum Verum – The Kraken. This beer is their barley wine, cask conditioned in wine barrels. The alcohol in the beer strips the wine residue from the oak barrel. I am not saying it was a bad beer. The Kraken was just not for me. 

Well slightly inebriated, we took the tour. I was fascinated. Tim, one of the brew masters, took us through their whole process. All of the technicalities presented might bore you. They interested me but I am into the process. Two highlights of interest are they do all they can to recycle and re-use as much as possible. The spent grains from the mash, after the sugars have been extracted, are used by local cattle ranchers for animal feed. The water used to chill the wort, now heated, is utilized in their next batch for brewing. Second, Tim paid great homage to the brew masters at the mass consumed beers. To paraphrase him, “They are great brewers to so consistently produce flavorless beer.” From the silo at the beginning where the malted grain is held to the bottling and kegging equipment at the end, I was wowed.

Before we left, Deb and I sampled of our favorite Real Ale Brews one more time. This tour was a great experience. Sadly, Real Ale only sells beer in Texas. Until they expand to South Dakota, I will find excuses to go back to Texas to enjoy their great beer.

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