When you think of English ales, words that often come to mind are warm and flat. Turns out that neither is true.
My favorite pint of ale in New Zealand was an cask conditioned ESB from Townshend Brewery, on tap at the Free House. I saw a pint on it's way to a nearby table, and was amazed by the thick rich head and the way the carbonation gradually settled up towards the top leaving a crystal clear brew at the bottom. I immediately asked what it was and ordered one. The Free House reserves a few taps for real ales such as this, and they serve them at cellar temperature (approx 55 deg) using a hand pulled Beer Engine.
Because real ales are cask conditioned rather than force carbonated, they do have less dissolved CO2, but the beer isn't flat. It holds less CO2 in solution because it isn't served as cold as we are used to in the US, but I found it to be sufficiently carbonated with a thick creamy head that was stunning. At cellar temperature, the flavors of the beer come through more. Not a good thing if you're drinking a mass produced lager, but great if you're drinking a quality craft beer.
It got me thinking about offering an English style ale or two served with a beer engine in my future tasting room.