From time to time we offer “cask ale” in our restaurants and I would love to take a few minutes to explain cask ale and what the appeal of it is. Cask ale is a very old English method of serving ale that is naturally carbonated offering the beer drinker a smoother less”gassy” pint of beer. It is traditionally served at “cellar” temperature (50-55 degrees) instead of the normal “close to freezing as possible” of typical american style beers. This is a great way to showcase craft beers as the lower carbonation levels and slightly warmer serving temps allow the full flavor that the brewer so carefully planned into the beer to really shine through.
The carbonation of the beer is is completely natural as the beer that is placed in the cask is “live” or still fermenting beer. As the beer completes it’s fermentation in the cask it becomes trapped in the beer and causes a very light carbonation or bubbles in the beer. When that beer is served it will have a very smooth and creamy nature not found in any other beers. We use two different serving methods depending on which restaurant it is served in. In Fort Wayne the beer will be pulled from the cask by a “beer engine” , imported from England, and is essentially just a pump that forces the beer through a sparkling tap that enhances the character even further. In the other restaurants or festivals the beer is just poured directly from the cask using a spigot that is hammered into the cask.
The cask offers the brewer the opportunity to add some fresh hop flavor to each individual cask by adding hops directly to the cask as well. Our Mad Anthony casks are sometimes “spiked” with some additional fresh hops and sometimes not depending on the particular style of beer and whether I believe something will be gained by the addition.
Serving beer from a cask is really a wonderfull way to showcase all the flavor of a particular beer and can be a very pleasurable way to consume the beer for the drinker. Make sure you sign up for our facebook page, mailing list, or twitter feed to stay in touch with our cask program and when and what the next offering will be.