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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Bottling/Kegging > Why prime cask conditioned ale?
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Old 02-14-2007, 10:38 PM   #1
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Default Why prime cask conditioned ale?

Sorry if this seems like a silly question, but why is it recommended to prime a cask conditioned ale given that it is eventually vented with a target co2 of one volume? In CAMRAs cellarmanship document they say it's optional. If so, would there ever be an advantage to priming?

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Old 02-14-2007, 10:42 PM   #2
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No priming - no carbonation or head. The "optional" CO2 added at serving is you to replace the served Ale with CO2 rather than air which would "Stale" the Ale.

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Old 02-14-2007, 11:59 PM   #3
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The advantage of priming is TIME.

If you don't you'll have to wait much longer...

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Old 02-15-2007, 12:54 AM   #4
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HB99: Can you explain this. I would think adding priming sugar wouldn't change the time required, as you still have to allow for the secondary fermentation. Or does the addition of priming sugar allow for a rapid rise in yeast count that would speed up the secondary fermentation?

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Old 02-15-2007, 03:34 AM   #5
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Sure, glad to. The majority of the malt sugars should be converted to alcohol in the primary.

During the secondary stage clearing, mellowing and blending (balance) take place, but hardly any fermentation (if done right).

When we prime we are adding more food for the yeast to convert.

If we left the brew in an open container it would just ferment out.

After priming and racking to a closed container, bottles or a keg, the same fermentation takes, but the CO2 gets absorbed into the liquid which creates carbonation. This takes approximately 3-4 weeks, depending upon temperatures.

If we ferment the brew all the way out then there should be no food to produce carbonation in a closed container so priming sugar must be added. If not, it may take 6 months or more to become carbonated.

Incidently, I have a German recipe for a Kellerbier that doesn't mention priming at all. I think it depends on gravity at kegging time...like this next paragraph.

If you are a good planner you could keg before the fermentation is complete and would not have to prime. But the question is, when is that time? At what gravity do you do this exactly? If you are expecting a FG of 1.010 do you rack to a cask at 1.012, 13, 14, 15, 20? I do not know myself, but it does make me curious to read that recipe again...it mentions different days for several stages than 10 weeks. Sounds more complicated than it really is, I'm sure.

So, we, as "patient" homebrewers tend to let it ferment out all the way and prime when we bottle. Of course with kegs you'd gas it.

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Old 02-15-2007, 03:45 AM   #6
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Since real ale isn't served carbonated (or very slightly), about the only reason I can think of to prime it would to ensure the air is completely purged.

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Old 02-15-2007, 04:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
Since real ale isn't served carbonated (or very slightly), about the only reason I can think of to prime it would to ensure the air is completely purged.
That's true. If I remember correctly, and assuming "cask" is a wooden keg, it has to be vented every so often for that reason before sealing.
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:14 AM   #8
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HB99- Thanks for that explanation. My current obsession is cask ale, so I appreciate you taking the time to go into detail.

As a follow up question, what level of carbonation are we looking for prior to venting? I remember from some of your earlier posts you recommend halving the priming sugar, but is there a specific level to shoot for?

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Old 02-15-2007, 02:14 PM   #9
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Halving the priming sugar is for corny kegs, not casks.

When venting a wooden cask you just rid the brew of the O2 when the CO2 pushes it out. If I remember it properly it's only done once or twice then sealed. The brewers I spke with in Germany just seal it, forget about it, and lager.

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Old 02-18-2007, 04:39 PM   #10
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Default Washington Cask Beer Festival

Click here: Washington Brewers Guild
http://www.washingtonbeer.com/cbf.htm
Washington Cask Beer Festival

For A cask beer experience, this little gathering
is must.
I will be at the 6-10pm sitting.
Tickets are limited, get them soon.

jim

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