All About Killer Cask Beer...
Last week I was talking to some friends, and mentioned that we’ll be serving “a cask beer” at our soon-to-open Tap Room. Sometimes I forget that (for most people anyway) beer is not the center of the universe and so I got a lot of questions about “cask.” I did the best I could to explain what cask is all about. They suggested I share the explanation with you… so here goes my best effort. (if you want the Cliff Notes version, just skip to the last paragraph)
What is cask beer?
Basically (and I mean basically) unfiltered, unpasteurized beer is put into a cask (cask is the container it will be served to the customer from.) Once in the cask, sugar continues to eat up yeast and natural carbonation results. Basically, the beer undergoes a 2nd fermentation. Often, the beer is "dry hopped"- meaning dry hops are added to the cask. The resulting beer is generally more complex, offering more character than your “usual beer.” So, if you’ve heard the term “cask-conditioned beer” you now have idea of what it means. I hope.
Here are a few other tidbits you should know if you’d like to be relatively schooled about cask beer:
Cask conditioned beer is usually served warmer than the everyday “kegged” beer you are familiar with. –At about 55 degrees.
Cask conditioned beer is less carbonated than the everyday “kegged” beer you are familiar with.
Once the cask is “tapped” it is only good for about two days—because as soon as it is tapped, it starts to spoil. Thankfully “tapping the keg” is often cause to get the party started and as a result, the cask might only last a few hours before being entirely consumed! Spoilage is rarely an issue to be concerned about.
To wrap it up, here’s the Cliff Notes version: Cask beer undergoes a 2nd fermentation while in the cask. It’s served warmer and less carbonated than what you’re used to, and once tapped, it won’t last long.
Your take away? When you hear we’re serving a cask at the Tap Room, come quickly.
Peace, Love and Cask…………………………………………….. TM
PS. Not to confuse you, but cask conditioned beer is sometimes referred to as “real ale"