April 4, 2011 | By Pete Lawrence
Barley's Smokehouse in Grandview is hosting their ninth annual Mini Real Ale Festival on May 14. This event is traditionally one of the best in the area for fans of real ale - smooth, un-carbonated beer direct from a cask or firkin. Barley's beers are featured, but it's the guest list that usually steals the show. The list for this year's festival is still in the works, but so far there are some impressive names: Flying Dog, Southern Tier, Troegs, Bells and Founders are all scheduled to have beers there (and hopefully brewery reps as well!).
Tickets are on sale now at the Smokehouse and online: http://www.barleysbrewing.com/smokehouse/index.htm
May 24, 2010 | By Pete Lawrence
Barley's Smokehouse in Grandview held their 8th annual Mini Real Ale Festival on Saturday and as it has been in the past, it was a really good event. Last year I would have described it as a great event, but this year's, while still really really good, seemed like a bit of a letdown.
The biggest issue may have been the start time. 11am is really early for a day of drinking to start. I get it, they wanted the festival crowd out of there in time for the dinner crowd, but how about noon to 4? The bulk of the crowd seemed to come after noon anyway and I think it contributed to the slower than usual ticket sales.
The beer selection was very impressive as usual, but there seemed to be some notable absences. No Great Lakes, only one Bell's selection, and Left Hand Brewing sent the wrong keg - Oops. It seems Great Lakes didn't have time to participate, but no Lake Erie Monster was a disappointment.
On the bright side, there were some beers that were a very pleasant surprise for me. Ohio Brewing Co's "Twice Bitten" strong ale was really nice, and Thirsty Dog's "Hop Dog" was especially good. It's a pale ale made with Belgian yeast, so it has a nice blend of that Belgian flavor along with a flavorful American pale ale. Kudos.
Don't get me wrong - I'll attend this event every year for as long as they have it. You can't get this many beers on cask at one time during many other events, and no other event in Columbus. If you like cask beers, this is one event in Columbus not to be missed.
January 2, 2010 | By Pete Lawrence
Spent new year's day with two great treats -- first the Buckeyes pulled off a bowl win in Pasadena, and so we celebrated with a bottle of Fuller's 1845 Celebration Ale (the name seemed fitting). I realize Fuller's isn't exactly craft beer, but there's is an occasional need for some fine imported ale.
The 1845 Celebration Ale is a bottle-conditioned ale in the style of "real ale" and man is it good. This probably isn't news to most Brits as its popularity there seems high, but real ale doesn't have the same following here in the states. I hope this changes soon as these ales are really good - smooth, dark and complex, it's a taste you can enjoy for a while.
It was a great choice to celebrate the Rose Bowl victory and the new year.
So, who's making real ale in the states? Any recommendations?