Blog by Nigel Walsh


Fresh Yeast on the Train

I drink the living…

…there, I said the quiet part out loud.

But what is a Real Ale zombie to do when forced to endure a 26-hour train trip from NYC to South Florida, and another one back again, as I did last week?

Unfortunately, there are no casks available in the café/bar car anymore, they were getting prematurely hazy from all of the rocking and rattling, I suspect.

Time was not too distant though, when a serious living beer enthusiast could purchase and consume bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on Amtrak, as I have on many occasions. These have now been replaced by a limited selection of ‘craft’ cans, which although quite tasty in a pinch, just do not do it for me; a little too gassy for the confined quarters of a rolling clown car.

Luckily there are places in Penn Station where cans may be purchased to go, and there are quite a few options to sample can-conditioned beers in the (dis-)comfort of your undulating seat.

The aforementioned Sierra Nevada have can-conditioned their legendary pale ale from day one, and it is as awesome as ever.

Allagash also can-condition many, if not all, of their staples, including Allagash White which is a very easy-drinking train beer, highly recommended for even the short hauls.

For this past trip though, I went a little more local.

Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing have a retail outlet right in the Moynihan hall at Penn Station, mere steps from the Amtrak platforms, and Threes regularly can-condition their Belgian and farmhouse ales and occasionally their lagers; Super Vliet anybody?

They also have several bottle-conditioned beers available, but those are not really practical for a train ride. I dare anybody to try pouring down to the yeasty bits while rolling from side to side.

My beer of choice was their spelt saison Closer To The Point, a gently carbonated 6% farmhouse ale that was able to stand up to the rigors of long-distance train travel (constant motion and temperature changes) and four days in the fridge in Florida.

The can-conditioning really does improve beer stability and aroma, and a slow rolling excursion from NY to FL is probably the ultimate stress test.

I bought a four-pack, two for the way down and two for the way back, and they were all equally delicious.

So, my fellow zombies, can-conditioned farmhouse ales are the way to go when you crave fresh brains yeast, and just cannot get your hands on a cask.

They are great for cookouts too!


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