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Old 08-02-2012, 02:45 PM   #21
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It blows my mind that people say they don't like cask ale. I have a hard time believing that you've had a good one. We have a festival in St. Paul called Firkin Fest each year that has 40 or so breweries serving cask ale and it is amazing. This year my favorite was an old ale (Harviestoun Old Engine Oil) but there were other very good offerings Bourbon Barrel beers, beers with almonds and toasted coconut, Bells was there, as well as Surly, Grand Teton, Rogue, and I think Left Hand. If an appropriate style is served at the appropriate temp and carbonation, very little compares with cask ale in my opinion. If you truly don't like it, fine, but methinks this is like someone saying they don't like dark beers, or craft beers when they have only had one or two examples.

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:52 PM   #22
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i'll be laughing at all your cask ale haters when i'm standing in the cask ale tent (yes, a whole tent, with nothing but cask ale. last year there were over 70) at the great taste of the midwest this year.

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:57 PM   #23
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I've had a belgian-style quad (american brewery) from a cask. It was pretty amazing, even though the style is traditionally pretty highly carbonated. It was dangerous, though, since it was warmer/lower carb and thus easier to drink quickly. Cider is also quite nice from a cask.

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Old 08-02-2012, 07:33 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynne-R View Post
It’s my understanding that sparklers are favored in north England and deprecated in the south. Found this on Google:Quote:
Apparently, once upon a time ale was not vented. The ale would condition in the cask, they’d hammer in a tap and start serving. The ale would be quite lively thanks to the lack of venting off excess c02, so when it poured it would throw a big head of foam. Somewhere along the way, they started venting, but now that head is gone. What to do? Some enterprising publican came up with a way to bring it back, and here we are today with sparkled beer in the North for a reason. Tradition. Appearance. Local taste. And default, through ignorance in the US.
-http://caskaleathome.blogspot.com/p/word-on-sparklers.html


Hey! That is taken from my blog that I started then didin't do anything with

Keep in mind, the above quote was an opinion, not fact. I have no idea how sparklers evolved, but it makes sense to me.

Along those lines, I'm hardly an expert on this subject beyond lots of trips to the UK, and regularly using casks in my home brewery. That said, there a lot of mistruths in this thread, which is unfortunate. Just to clear up a few things: a cask is container of a certain shape with two holes in it. One to dram beer out of. One to fill/vent through. They can be made of any metal, but nowadays they are likely stainless. Wood went away a long time ago, and those "wood" german casks that the altbier breweries are using is likely stainless with a wood exterior. I've been to Dusseldorf, spoke to one of the brewers at Zum Eurige. That isn't cask conditioned beer folks. It's regular old filtered, force carbonated (with recovered c02) beer put into a cask shaped container.

CAsk ale is not flat. If it is, send it back! It won't be carbonated like many of us are used to either, but somewhere in between. You should be able to swirl the pint and see tons of gas in the ale, but there shouldn't be any bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass either. The art of cask conditioning is venting, but not over venting!

Breathers? Yeah, there is a time and place for one. My homebrewery is a good place for a breather! I can keep a cask in good condition for around 4 weeks.

What I find a shame is the default use of the sparkler in the US. I don't see any rhyme or reason for it either. It is the utmost form of ignorance. If you have tried the ale side by side, and prefer the sparkler that is one thing, but otherwise it's just ignorance. To my taste, the same beer pummeled through a sparkler tastes flat, lifeless, stale but with a great hoppy aroma. The non sparkled beer is lively, bursting with condition and hop flavor, but less on the nose. Real ale should never appear flat. There should always be a thin ring of foam on the glass. Of course, the best pint will be the one straight from the cask with no agitation whatsoever.

Here's the blog. Someday, I'll update it. Please don't hesitate contacting me anytime with questions on getting started. Cask beer at home is very doable, and highly rewarding!
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:44 PM   #25
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Jim, I'll have to take you up on that, maybe you could start a thread on how to achieve good cask ale at home. I used to work in the UK and after leaving, the quest for real ale is what led me to homebrewing 7 years ago. Since I brew mainly english styles, this would be a great help to me, and I am sure others.

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Old 08-02-2012, 07:49 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbauer013 View Post
Jim, I'll have to take you up on that, maybe you could start a thread on how to achieve good cask ale at home. I used to work in the UK and after leaving, the quest for real ale is what led me to homebrewing 7 years ago. Since I brew mainly english styles, this would be a great help to me, and I am sure others.
Might seem obvious, but the best thing to do is get the gear and just do it. My first cask was flat because I over conditioned, but I learned from it! Northern Brewer has cask stuff now, but I get my stuff from Paul at Ukbrewing.com

I'm in the middle of building a house. I'll have a dedicated cask cellar in it. Currently, we're in a rental and I can't brew now. Once we move, I'll happily start a step by step thread on how to do it.

Do you have any specific questions?
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:49 PM   #27
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Hey Jim, nice to hear from you.

I’ve never been to jolly old England, likely never will. Two quick questions;

Do they use sparklers in London? I know it’s in the south, but it’s kind of in it’s own orbit.

Is the sparkler easily removable? Can I ask the bartender to remove the stupid sparkler?

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Old 08-02-2012, 07:57 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynne-R View Post
Hey Jim, nice to hear from you.

I’ve never been to jolly old England, likely never will. Two quick questions;

Do they use sparklers in London? I know it’s in the south, but it’s kind of in it’s own orbit.

Is the sparkler easily removable? Can I ask the bartender to remove the stupid sparkler?
I've been to London 8 or 9 times over the course of the last 20 years. Started drinking beer while in college for a semester abroad. I didn't like beer until I tasted Brakspear Bitter. a game changer! I've never seen a sparkler on a pump in London! Ever! Well, that's not true. The Northern breweries at the Great British Beer Festival use sparklers on their beers.

The sparkler is a threaded plastic bit. It screws off in seconds. I always ask that it be removed, and usually get bad looks
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:37 PM   #29
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Quote:
It blows my mind that people say they don't like cask ale.
LOL..."blows my mind" is a bit strong. Lightly carbonated, warmish beer? It's just not for everyone. Kinda like candy corn or clowns.

Does it "blow your mind" that not everyone likes clowns? I saw a clown couple making out in the poultry section of a grocery store when I was 18 and have been scarred ever since.

Taste is always subjective!!
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:31 PM   #30
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I would really like to taste a proper real ale. Can't say as that I've ever had the occasion to pass one up, though. I'd make one but I would never know if what I was making had any resemblance to what people consider good real ale.

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