A huge part of freshers, and University in general, is the drinking culture. So it seems fitting to tell all you freshers and refreshers about the Real Ale Society, so that you won’t be stuck having VKs and vodka mixers for the next three years. I reached out to committee member Dot and asked her some questions to find out all things beer and ale
What is your society? And what does it do?
We bring together lovers of real ales, craft beer and even cider together to socialise and learn more about the way these different drinks are made and their history. Our events include: pub crawls in Leeds and elsewhere, brewery tours, tastings, pub quizzes and even a trip abroad to Prague.
It’s currently Oktoberfest – what do you recommend freshers do?
We can recommend visiting Headrow House for ‘Oktoberfeast’ where there will be plenty of great German beer to be had alongside some Bavarian street food. This runs until the 7th of October. We even have a pub crawl give it a go planned. Check our Facebook page.
What drinks do you recommend to freshers?
We try to gauge how much they might know about real ale and craft beer so as not to patronise them and then try and work out what styles they prefer. Beer preference is a very personal thing so generally we would just recommend trying small amounts of as many beers as possible to better understand what you like best!
What is the worst ale you’ve ever had (so probably avoid this one)?
Probably a cherry stout by Tyne Bank Brewery. It’s rare that I have to pour a beer down the sink after opening it but this was one of those times! It almost put me off ale for life.
And what’s the best?
One that stands out in my mind is 8 Mansions by Verdant (from Cornwall) which is a 9% double IPA. It had just the right balance between sweetness and bitterness and was so intense you had to wait at least a few minutes between sips! But obviously what is the best and the worst is completely subjective and also dependent on my mood.
What classifies as a ‘Real Ale’?
The definition given by CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) is “Real ale is a beer brewed from traditional ingredients (malted barley, hops water and yeast), matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide”. The mention of how it is served means that traditionally ‘real ales’ are served from casks when you buy them in pubs. Although our name is the ‘Real Ale Society’ this does not mean we have to just drink these types of beers, in fact almost all of us enjoy or even prefer the more modern craft beers that are often served from kegs not casks.
Should students feel the need to be ‘sophisticated’ drinkers?
Students should never feel the ‘need’ to drink or be pressured into drinking. However, we believe it is a more positive thing if you are drinking a drink because you actually enjoy it and not just so you get drunk. Whether that is sophisticated or not is for the individual to decide.
Finally, why should people be a part of your society?
Well membership is only £5 for the entire year and through event discounts, free food and drink at events, discounted accommodation for trips and beer festival tokens you will make your money back in no time and if you discover the society isn’t for you or you don’t have enough time then at least you haven’t spent all your student loan on it! Secondly, our society provides a way for students that aren’t all too familiar with the city of Leeds and the surrounding areas a chance to get to know it better and discover some hidden gems. Finally, we are a very friendly bunch and probably the least intimidating society there is to join as our events are so informal, we are much less nerdy about our beer that you probably perceive us to be!
Will Nelson – Real Ale Enthusiast