1859 Oregon's Magazine | July/August 2019

Page 24

food + drink

Cocktail Card recipe courtesy of Gompers Distillery


Real Ale and How to Find It

The Bee’s Knees 2 ounces Gompers Estate Gin ¾ ounce lemon juice ½ ounce honey Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain and serve in a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

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A bartender pours a beer from the beer engine at Porter Brewing.


written and photographed by Jeremy Storton I’M IN LOVE, though I admit, not at first sip. I stepped into one of the two real ale breweries in Oregon and asked the bartender for a pint of the brewery’s Best Bitter. She smiled and pulled the hand pump, which looked more like a blunt weapon than a tap handle. I drummed my fingers as the beer flowed through a goose neck wand and sprayed beer and foam out like a shower head into my glass. The first sip was rich and creamy like a nitro beer, which ironically was developed by Guinness to mimic the experience of real ale. Real ale (aka cask ale) uses traditional methods to take subtle complexity to another level. It is served from the maturation vessel and requires skill and knowledge to pull off well. It is best chilled, not so cold that it suppresses the flavor, and with a light effervescence reminiscent of good champagne. This is how all beer used to be, until industrialization forced real ale into near-extinction. That is, until the Brits formed the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and brought it back from the brink in the 1970s. Today, real ale still exists, but it’s hard to find. It doesn’t travel well and relies on unique draft systems, forcing drinkers to seek it out. Some pubs may connect a regular keg to a beer engine, a practice I call “faux ale.” Some occasionally dabble in the real thing. Oregon has two breweries fully dedicated to the practice—Brewer’s

REAL ALE TERMINOLOGY Beer Engine: A hand pump that pulls beer from a cask. Stillage: A stand on a bar top that holds a cask still and at an angle to avoid sediment entering the glass. Cask: A large barrel-like container that may also be made out of wood, metal or plastic. Firkin: A specific size of a cask that contains a little more than 10 U.S. gallons of beer. Bung: A cylindrical wedge that seals a hole in the cask. Cask Breather: Fills the cask with a blanket of protective carbon dioxide at ambient pressures to protect the beer from oxidation. Shive & Spile: A type of bung that allows air or a cask breather to fill the cask with gas as the beer is poured out. Keystone & Tap: Another type of bung on the head of the cask that allows a spigot to be hammered into the cask in order to serve by gravity from a stillage.

Union in Oakridge and Porter Brewing in Redmond. Both are splendid. Typically, Oregon is known for hops and innovation, while traditional ales don’t trend. Nonetheless, I took a final, furtive draw from my beer and reminisced. Real ale took me a few pints before I truly got it, but when I did, I fell head over heels.