Session # 36 – Cask Ale

by Sean on February 5, 2010


“I’d like to return to essays on a beer style, or more precisely, a beer procedure: Cask-conditioned ale.”

I am not an expert on the intricacies of cask-conditioned ales by any stretch of the imagination, not due to a lack of desire to sample but rather because the choices available on the carbon dioxide side of the fence are just so much greater.

And that, to me, is the core of the issue. Cask conditioned is not yet at the tipping point. It is an embraced novelty. And until it becomes ubiquitous that is where it will stay.   Two of the excellent beer bars that I frequent have exactly ONE tap for casks.  Playing the percentages means that the cask ale will not get selected.

So the cask converted can sing the praises until their vocal cords collapse but will only succeed in pushing themselves into the lunatic fringe alongside the high alcohol, barrel aged double imperial stout crowd and the fruit beer haters.

So here is my own modest proposal: What needs to happen is actual head to head, Coke vs Pepsi style tastings.  The same beer from the same brewer.  One crafted for the regular tap and one for a cask.  No need to blindfold the participants. This isn’t about guessing which is which. It is about discerning what style hits all the right spots on your individual palate.  I had the opportunity recently to try a Blonde Ale then a slightly different version of the same beer from a cask. The difference was night and day and not just because one had extra hops added. I can now explain how one was fizzy while the other had a creamy mouthfeel and I can explain why I liked it more.

Because in the end, a movement will start only if enough people can clearly communicate why they love cask ale not only with words but with examples. Refreshing liquid examples.

Check all the responses to the cask ale conundrum HERE

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