A History of Ale By Llangollen Brewery
We know why we love real ale – but why do you love it too?
Is it its history? For us, there is something about connecting with the past when brewing and drinking our craft beers. Itʼs part of our culture and our legacy and weʼre proud to be keeping the real ale brewing process alive in the 21st century.
Ale was an important source of nutrition in the Medieval world. It was one of the three main sources of grains along with bread and pottage (yes we had to Google this – to save you the job, let us tell you itʼs a simple stew!) We donʼt have the nutrition excuse anymore but hey, letʼs not be picky…
Did children really drink ale?
Aleʼs alcohol content was also a preservative, useful when there was no bottling and no refrigeration – and, whilst they didnʼt know this then, it was the sterilising effect when the ale was boiled as part of the brewing process that made it safer to drink than water! Small beer, table beer or mild beer, as it was variously named, was a great source of nutrition and had a lower alcohol content than the ʻstrong beerʼ. It was consumed daily by everyone – even children. Strong beer was saved for recreational purposes, usually served from jugs in taverns and inns.
Had there been the government guidelines on alcohol consumption back then, these would have been broken: records from the Middle Ages show that ale was consumed in huge quantities, one person might even manage to imbibe up to a gallon a day. Clearly – as much as we want you to enjoy our real ales – we donʼt advocate this nowadays!
And what about real ale now? Why do we still love it?
The term ʻreal aleʼ was coined by CAMRA in the 1970s, describing traditional draught cask beers and distinguishing them from the processed, highly carbonated beers that were being produced for mass consumption by big brewers.
Real ale is a living product with live yeast which continues to condition and ferment the beer right up to the moment it is poured. This differentiates it from mass-produced beers whereby the yeast is killed off and CO2 is injected in its place.
It is truly an artisan product, requiring skill, special handling and storage to ensure the very best taste. It is lively, naturally carbonated and packed full of flavour.
Whether it is a traditionally hand-pulled pint or served from a bottle or a can, real ale is a drink to savour, a drink to be proud you enjoy, a drink that has been with us for centuries and one that weʼre sure will be with us for centuries to come. We know why we love it and weʼre so glad you do too!