I'm still working on New Jersey Breweries; got one of the very last interviews today at River Horse Brewing in Lambertville (where new owners with new money are starting to rev up this brewery; could be some interesting stuff coming in the near future). But last week I ran up the Delaware River to Milford and talked with Tim Hall, brewer at the Ship Inn.
The Ship's always been a favorite for their cask Ringwood ales, and I've got a lot of fun stuff to share on it -- in the book. But at the end of the interview we did a quick run of the beers, including an ESB Tim had in the tanks, which was excellent: lively, fruity, just beer near the peak of condition. He said that if I liked it so much I should take some home. I think he really wanted to show off their new package: beer-in-a-box.
This is much like the wineboxes: a plastic bag full of beer inside a cardboard box. The boxes come in two sizes: 1.25 and 2.5 gallons. In this case, Tim tapped the still-fermenting beer right out of the tank into the bag for me. He filled it, capped it, and tucked in the little spigot to replace the cap when I was ready to drink. "Just keep it cool, and keep an eye on it," he said. "If it gets too full of gas, let a little off."
I had to do that once, but otherwise, just let it sit until today, when I tapped it before dinner. Man, does this ever work great! For a night, I've got about a gallon of great real ale in my house! It's fresh, lively, fruity, and has a deliciously bitter finish. Best of all, it's got that fine, light carbonation I highly prize in cask ale.
I don't know of any other place that's doing this, but if you get to the Ship, do it. Get the cask in the box, take it home and enjoy it. It's not cheap, but remember: it's more than twice your regular growler fill, and most brewpubs won't even fill a growler of cask ale. This rocks.
Which is why I had to blog about it, even when I'm this busy. Back to work!