Anybody brew cask ales?

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71satelite

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Anyway, I was flipping through my favorite home brew rag down here in the NC and came across some reading on cask ales. They sound freaking awesome, anybody on here brewing these up? If so whats the skinney? Thanks, any info would be great!
 

japhroaig

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Oh geez, as a British beer afficianado I can tell you that producing and serving a hand pulled, conditioned pint tales serious practice and gear. If you want something close and a lot easier, simply brew a Bass clone and bottle at a low carbonation rate. Not nearly the same, but in the spirit of cask conditioned.

A real cask conditioned ale is fermented for about a week depending on gravity, than transferred to a keg/cask where it finishes feenting and carbonating. You never add sugar or CO2 tocarb a cask ale, it should be done naturally.

Finally, the care of the cask is of utmost importance. Real ale should be served through a beer engine, but a cask when opened will last a week at the most. Best within a few days.

The best part of a cask or Real ale is the creamy, subtlness the beer gets . I love them and as soon as I get an engine, the real ale will be mine :$
 

dirtbikejunkie

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CAMRA’s official definition of Real Ale is, “beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.”

in seattle area you can find weekly "cask nights" at several of the bars and breweries. we also have a yearly cask festival.

I am glad to see more people are appreciating cask beer.
 

japhroaig

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I wonder if anyone here either knows where to purchase reasonably priced beer engines, or perhaps even how to construct one. That seems to me to be the biggest hurdle in authentic cask ales for the homebrewer--we are already doing most of the other steps, just not the last one.
 

mullenite

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There is a DIY on here using an RV water pump. I believe he used a breather but a QD on the gas post would be more accurate as it would allow the beer to oxidize.
 

billc68

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What about bottling the ale at just the right gravity? That should be pretty close.
It would be in small quantities so no need to to pump. Basically, if you knew when to "cask" it, just bottle instead without adding any priming sugar.
Next time you brew, try bottling a few in PET bottles around the same time you would rack to a secondary, you'll know if it is carbonating by the hardness of the bottle.

You can top up your carboy with some C02 to compensate for the headspace.

This is just a guess, and I personally would store them where a few bombs wouldn't be an issue.
 

japhroaig

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Yes, a bottled conditioned ale, carbonated without additional sugar is pretty darn close, and definitely in the spirit of cask ales. But it's like the Guinness conundrum--while bottle and tap are both good, it's just different out of the tap. Better? That's an argument I don't ever want to instigate, so just different :D
 

billc68

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Yes, a bottled conditioned ale, carbonated without additional sugar is pretty darn close, and definitely in the spirit of cask ales. But it's like the Guinness conundrum--while bottle and tap are both good, it's just different out of the tap. Better? That's an argument I don't ever want to instigate, so just different :D
Now I want to try this, but when would you bottle?
Maybe a "Casked" Irish stout would be perfect.
 

japhroaig

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I was talking to a guy I met in Oakridge Oregon who runs a British style pub (he has seven or eigh^C^C^C^C^C--Six! engines from England that he purchased when he was a publican there), and according to him he kegs/casks all of his beer after ~7 days or less. He then lets them finish for 7-10 more days, cellars them for a day or so, and serves. While I don't think most English breweries are quite that fast, I certainly don't think they are deliberately waiting much longer.

The funny thing about many English beers is that they include (at least according to the books) white sugar in many of them. It's kinda counter intuitive to an AG brewer, but it seems like the sugar actually adds some of the resinous, vinous flavors that many British beers have. If ya want any recipes, let me know.
 

Freezeblade

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The funny thing about many English beers is that they include (at least according to the books) white sugar in many of them. It's kinda counter intuitive to an AG brewer, but it seems like the sugar actually adds some of the resinous, vinous flavors that many British beers have. If ya want any recipes, let me know.
Less refined sugar though, Demurara or Turbando are the way to go, I use it in about 5-10% in my english style bitters.
 

billc68

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I wonder if someone could design and build some kind of bladder system to use with CO2 powered kegs, that way you can use your existing system but no added CO2 added to your keg... well maybe just enough to purge the oxygen.

I am sure it is possible, my water tank in my house is set up on the same principle, the difference being the bladder is prefilled and the water pump pumps water into the tank causing the bladder to compress. Turn on the tap and the bladder pushes the water.
 

mullenite

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I wonder if someone could design and build some kind of bladder system to use with CO2 powered kegs, that way you can use your existing system but no added CO2 added to your keg... well maybe just enough to purge the oxygen.

I am sure it is possible, my water tank in my house is set up on the same principle, the difference being the bladder is prefilled and the water pump pumps water into the tank causing the bladder to compress. Turn on the tap and the bladder pushes the water.
Any hand pump can be used or you could build a rack to feed via gravity. You don't want it to be cold, the yeast should still be active and it's best kept cellared (around 55-60). Using CO2 to purge the oxygen also kind of defeats the purpose.
 

devilishprune

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What about bottling the ale at just the right gravity? That should be pretty close.
It would be in small quantities so no need to to pump. Basically, if you knew when to "cask" it, just bottle instead without adding any priming sugar.
Next time you brew, try bottling a few in PET bottles around the same time you would rack to a secondary, you'll know if it is carbonating by the hardness of the bottle.

You can top up your carboy with some C02 to compensate for the headspace.

This is just a guess, and I personally would store them where a few bombs wouldn't be an issue.
I was thinking about this, and it seems doable.

Adding 5 oz of corn sugar to 5 gallons of beer would increase the gravity by roughly 0.002 points. This is what people normally use to carbonate their beer (you could always use less or more, but that would change things around) Therefore, if you bottled when your gravity was about .002 higher than your FG, you could in theory get bottle conditioned beers with no added sugars. That's being a little risky though, because there's no telling if your beer would actually get to that gravity first.
 

japhroaig

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After doing some thinking and reading, it finally occurred to me that my memory of cask conditioned ale--the first time I had it--is probably the most relevant point here. When I first had a cask conditioned ale, the first thought that shot into my head was, "Hey, this tastes like homebrew!!" That's because it isn't excessively filtered, excessively carbonated, stored at cellar temps, and is usually a tad hazy.

So I think what I'm trying to say, is if you aren't a British beer snob, don't worry about it. You are probably making brews that have more in common with cask ales than most micros in the US. And if you are a British beer snob (*raises hand*) then there is still quite a long road ahead of us :)
 

billc68

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After doing some thinking and reading, it finally occurred to me that my memory of cask conditioned ale--the first time I had it--is probably the most relevant point here. When I first had a cask conditioned ale, the first thought that shot into my head was, "Hey, this tastes like homebrew!!" That's because it isn't excessively filtered, excessively carbonated, stored at cellar temps, and is usually a tad hazy.

So I think what I'm trying to say, is if you aren't a British beer snob, don't worry about it. You are probably making brews that have more in common with cask ales than most micros in the US. And if you are a British beer snob (*raises hand*) then there is still quite a long road ahead of us :)
I was thinking that too.
 

Beerrific

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Anyway, I was flipping through my favorite home brew rag down here in the NC and came across some reading on cask ales. They sound freaking awesome, anybody on here brewing these up? If so whats the skinney? Thanks, any info would be great!
Are you referring to the article Owen Ogletree wrote in Southern Brew News? Yeah, good article. If you are interested in cask beers, you should try to make it to the Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting in January...great event, really hard to get tickets for. It used to be all homebrew but the DOR would not let that slide.
 
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71satelite

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I am always looking for another recipe! I just got done brewing a blackberry stout! Smooth and creamy, naturaly carbinated and it makes me think of how good a cask ale would taste!
 

Airborneguy

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This is a crude little diagram I made for myself based on some reading I did a few months back. I am going to try this one day on a keg of bitter. I'm figuring if I bring it to a homebrew club meeting, most of it would be gone in one day, so I should be able to finish the keg before it oxidizes too much.

Basically, you just put a line on the "gas in" with nothing connected to it to draw in air, then connect to a hand pump/beer engine.

Real Ale Corny Set-up.jpg
 

pcollins

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An interesting discussion here...

AFAIK, there is another dose of sugar/dme/wort added to the cask at the time of filling. The beer itself is taken from the fermenter prior to dropping the yeast so that there is still yeast in suspension to feed on the sugar.

The keg is sealed so that when fermentation restarts the CO2 remains in the beer for carbonation. There is not much carbonation, at least not as much as in commercially carbonated beer, and the carbonation is finer.

We're already doing this with our bottle conditioned beers. Essentially what you are pouring IS the bottle equivalent of cask ales.

One of the disadvantages that we have as homebrewers in creating this particular style is that unless we are having a party or something we won't get through the cask fast enough before the O2 has some effect on the beer. In a pub, the cask is emptied (hopefully) fast enough that the effects of oxidation are minimal.

If you want a reasonable facsimile of cask ale at home without the damaging effects of O2 just set your keg dispense system to a much lower psi when carbonating. I find when I do "set and forget" at 10 psi at 32ºF I reach proper volume within a week but after about three days it is very much like cask ale. Try it... YMMV.
 

mullenite

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An interesting discussion here...

AFAIK, there is another dose of sugar/dme/wort added to the cask at the time of filling. The beer itself is taken from the fermenter prior to dropping the yeast so that there is still yeast in suspension to feed on the sugar.

The keg is sealed so that when fermentation restarts the CO2 remains in the beer for carbonation. There is not much carbonation, at least not as much as in commercially carbonated beer, and the carbonation is finer.

We're already doing this with our bottle conditioned beers. Essentially what you are pouring IS the bottle equivalent of cask ales.

One of the disadvantages that we have as homebrewers in creating this particular style is that unless we are having a party or something we won't get through the cask fast enough before the O2 has some effect on the beer. In a pub, the cask is emptied (hopefully) fast enough that the effects of oxidation are minimal.

If you want a reasonable facsimile of cask ale at home without the damaging effects of O2 just set your keg dispense system to a much lower psi when carbonating. I find when I do "set and forget" at 10 psi at 32ºF I reach proper volume within a week but after about three days it is very much like cask ale. Try it... YMMV.
The oxidation is a good thing in cask ale. Not a bad thing.

Also, they are filling the pins after a couple days in the fermenter, on a commercial level there is still plenty of fermenting to be done at that point so no sugar/dme/wort needs to be added.
 

japhroaig

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What mullenite said :)

the downside of course is the four day shelf life of a cask, but i agree it would be gone in a day at a club meeting. For me, what I want is to recreate the fine carboonation. Right mow I run ales through a stout creamer tap which gets it most of the way there. Bit always room for improvement.
 

mullenite

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What mullenite said :)

the downside of course is the four day shelf life of a cask, but i agree it would be gone in a day at a club meeting. For me, what I want is to recreate the fine carboonation. Right mow I run ales through a stout creamer tap which gets it most of the way there. Bit always room for improvement.
I've thought about the creamer faucet thing but I didn't think it would be the same. Glad to see I was right.

I guess without trying a real, well kept, cask ale some of these shortcuts would work but after having my first one (a BrewDog Punk IPA) I want more and more.
 

japhroaig

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Yeah, a creamer is a poor mans engine . Closer to the real thing, but the bubbles just aren't right. Creamers tend to make ales a bit too finely bubbled, making them feel flat even when they aren't . Of you play around with the PSI and flow rate you can get darn close though. It just takes a lot of fiddling.
 

pcollins

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Well, FWIW, while I worked at a craft brewery that did casks, we did add a dose of priming to the cask. And why does it only have a four day shelf life, as you say?

Maybe call your local craft brewer and see how they do it. They may have a different method but they may be able to help you out with it as well.

Cheers
 

santosvega

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I use these for all my cask ale needs. Ignore the Party Star Deluxe Tap System and all that nonsense and just vent the excess CO2 at the top and just dispense using gravity. You can see that Wells sells them as a means of enjoying real ale at home. (I also occasionally use cubitainers, though they don't let in much oxygen so you don't get the changing flavors of authentic cask ales.)
It's true that you've only got a few days to consume the beer, but I've never found it to be a problem. Typically cask ales are lower gravity, and between myself and my girlfriend a 5-liter cask rarely sees a third day. I tend to bottle anything above 4.5% abv, as casked ale is far too smooth and delicious to allow me any modicum of self-control at higher gravities.
The difference between gravity-dispensed real ale and that served through an engine is simply one of convenience in the pub, and the general consensus is that there's no discernible difference in flavor.
 

mullenite

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Well, FWIW, while I worked at a craft brewery that did casks, we did add a dose of priming to the cask. And why does it only have a four day shelf life, as you say?

Maybe call your local craft brewer and see how they do it. They may have a different method but they may be able to help you out with it as well.

Cheers
Shelf life is going to depend on oxygen ingress. For most people the oxidation stops being pleasant after 4-5 days and tastes downright bad after a week.
 

commonlaw

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...checking the status of my Amazon account.... Yup, all parts ordered with Next Day delivery. Gentlemen, I'm building my own beer engine :ban:
you will love it. nothing better than drawing a pint of home made cask ale. Someday I'd love to upgrade from the rocket pump to a real beer engine, but it gets the job done. My cask ales tend to go so much faster than beers on a regular tap... I had to start brewing 10 gal batches.
 

japhroaig

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Not to derail, bit any idea of you can replace the faucet with something more authentic?
 

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Didn't BYO just do a whole article on how to fill, carb, condition and serve these? He has some ideas on using existing corney's etc as well. It's the issue with Breakfast Beers on the cover.
 

japhroaig

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Well, the Old Peculiar clone is now in kegs carbing. I figure it will take a week or so of mucking around with the pump before I'm ready to actually use it, so that should put me a couple days away from this brew being ready. One keg is gonna be served conventionally, and the other through the Rocket pump.
 

david_42

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Some of my beers are close, but as much as I like the impact a beer engine has on the pour, I cannot bear the idea of having to toss out 95% of a batch because it has oxidized. I keep mine in cornies and use just enough CO2 to pour.
 
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71satelite

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Riddle me this as an outside the box kind of idea... If I were to brew a standard batch of 5 gl and I wanted to do a partial bottle partial cask what would be recomded? I found some smaller casks on line for a reasonable price. Transfering a small amount like 1 liter and keeping it chilled would be a nice mix, and it would disapear pretty quick so no oxidizing of the brew in the cask. The question is when? Would you split these after the primary (3-5 days) and would there be any addtional things you would need to do to the cask portion to make it cask worthy? What would the procedure for the casl portion be? Thanks fellas, just thinking out loud! :tank:
 

japhroaig

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If it were me, I'd split it off your primary ~5 days after pitching. Ideally you would know what your FG should be and could work backwards on how carbonated you wanted it to be, and split it off when a reading gave you that much residual sugar. But if it were me, I'd split it off after 5 days :D

Let it ferment in a closed cask for another seven days or so, and enjoy probably just by pouring it out if there is only a liter or two. Just serve it at 50F and don't worry about the haze and cloudiness.
 

Pumpkinman906

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One of my close friends owned and operated Emerald Isle BrewWorks in Rhode Island in the 90's. They were one of the first breweries in the country to deal exclusively in Cask-Conditioned ales. They had the honor of being visited and honored by the late-great Michael Jackson with excellent reviews. You can still find info about them online. We always have cask conditioned something on tap served with one of our 5 genuine English Beer Engines. There's nothing better than a freshly tapped cask Pale Ale.....So yeah, we do cask...and it is special....
 
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