Cask Ales

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I had a Red Seal out of a cask at Flying Saucer in Fort Worth. The whole deal, wooden cask, hand pump and sparkler. The bartender warned me it was gonna take a while so I ordered a beer to have while waiting. Five pulls and forty five minutes later I had a fresh delicious warm flat amber.
That's one of many reasons why I don't drink at flying saucer. It should not take more than a few minutes to pour a pint of ale off a beer engine. Gingerman usually has a cask on the engine. They can take care of you there.
 

chucke

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Sure.

The cask is a 2 1/2 gallon poly carboy. (A 5 gallon would work just as well.)

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=22692&clickid=redirect


The cap has an insert that's threaded to accept 3/4" NPT.



A hole is drilled into the insert. A nylon bushing is screwed into the insert using Teflon tape.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=34920


A female quick disconnect is screwed into the bushing, again using Teflon tape. Be careful... don't over-tighten this item or it will crack.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=74702


The female disconnect above accepts the male fitting below.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=74862


3/16" ID tubing connects the male fitting above to the LPG regulator. (You'll need to apply threaded fittings with barbed ends to accept tubing from the gas regulator on one side and to the male fitting on the other.) This is connected to your CO2 manifold. The regulator takes the pressure down to about 1PSI. When beer is removed from the cask, CO2 replaces it, thus acting as a blanket for the beer.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BQUGXE/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00


Finally, a faucet is applied to the bottom of the poly carboy.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=65805&catid=810&clickid=searchresults
 
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I enjoy cask ale. I've had several really excellent cask ales but I've had a few that really needed the full carbonation and shouldn't have been served on cask. (My favorite hands down was last year's St. Arnold's Pumpkinator on cask. Saison, on the other hand, should not be served from cask.) I've had cask out of both a gravity pour and a beer engine. I definitely prefer the beer engine but I'm not afraid of drinking off a gravity cask.

I can see why people would not like cask ale. It's just a different beast; like sours, brett beers, IPAs, etc. you have to know what you're getting into and it's not for everybody.
 

dinnerstick

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It should not take more than a few minutes to pour a pint of ale off a beer engine.
yes, that's absurd. i have spent a large, some would say alarming, amount of time in british pubs, and, unless the cask goes dry, i don't think it has ever taken more than 15 seconds to get a properly pulled pint from a beer engine! discounting the amount of time is sometimes takes to wake the bartender. there's no reason it should take a minute let alone 45. it doesn't need to settle like a nitro pour, and it shouldn't come out foamy unless it's overcarbed or are just idiots!!

speaking of idiots, i was in london last week and drinking in a pub in soho where they had 6 or so ales from their parent brewery, but i'm an idiot and can't for the life of me remember what they were called, maybe memory loss was complicated by ethanol intake, but they were making low gravity british bitters and dry hopping with american varieties. one was called citra, and i think they had a pale ale with amarillo. interesting combination, a bit confusing but i want to try them again!
 

makomachine

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chucke said:
Sure.

The cask is a 2 1/2 gallon poly carboy. (A 5 gallon would work just as well.)

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=22692&clickid=redirect

The cap has an insert that's threaded to accept 3/5" NPT.

A hole is drilled into the insert. A nylon bushing is screwed into the insert using Teflon tape.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=34920

A female quick disconnect is screwed into the bushing, again using Teflon tape. Be careful... don't over-tighten this item or it will crack.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=74702

The female disconnect above accepts the male fitting below.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=74862

3/16" ID tubing connects the male fitting above to the LPG regulator. (You'll need to apply threaded fittings with barbed ends to accept tubing from the gas regulator on one side and to the male fitting on the other.) This is connected to your CO2 manifold. The regulator takes the pressure down to about 1PSI. When beer is removed from the cask, CO2 replaces it, thus acting as a blanket for the beer.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BQUGXE/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00

Finally, a faucet is applied to the bottom of the poly carboy.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=65805&catid=810&clickid=searchresults
Brilliant! Thanks for the details. Seems like a cheap way to give this a try with 1/2 a batch of mild for a side by side with a keg. Forgive my ignorance, but wouldn't the beer gradually go flat with only 1 PSI of headspace back fill?
 
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yes, that's absurd. i have spent a large, some would say alarming, amount of time in british pubs, and, unless the cask goes dry, i don't think it has ever taken more than 15 seconds to get a properly pulled pint from a beer engine! discounting the amount of time is sometimes takes to wake the bartender. there's no reason it should take a minute let alone 45. it doesn't need to settle like a nitro pour, and it shouldn't come out foamy unless it's overcarbed or are just idiots!!
The bar I usually get cask ale at usually takes a couple minutes because they pump, pour, let it settle, then repeat to fill the glass. I'm sure there's a sparkler on it because it initially comes out fairly foamy. Maybe they are overpumping it. It usually takes a couple of minutes with the first settling but it always comes to me with a light carbonation that way.
 

chucke

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Brilliant! Thanks for the details. Seems like a cheap way to give this a try with 1/2 a batch of mild for a side by side with a keg. Forgive my ignorance, but wouldn't the beer gradually go flat with only 1 PSI of headspace back fill?
If the beer is kept at cellar temps (52-55) starting at the correct pressure (about 1.25 volumes of CO2) and the CO2 kept constant, not really. Maybe there was a slight decrease, but not too much. Granted the longest I've ever kept it serving is a little over a week.

To prep for the cask, ferment as normal. Instead of bottling or kegging, rack the beer into the cask which already has the correct amount of sugar to bring the beer to 1.25 volume CO2. Allow the yeast to consume the sugar, produce a little CO2, condition, then serve. For best results, use a highly flocculent yeast.
 

makomachine

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Thanks for the info. Might give this a try in the future. My dilemma is I use a chest freezer and gravity pours might be tricky. I could remove it and set it on top, but that's a lot of work to serve and also risks stirring up sediment. Don't think 1 PSI is high enough for a cobra tap, but never tried it.
 

chucke

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Thanks for the info. Might give this a try in the future. My dilemma is I use a chest freezer and gravity pours might be tricky. I could remove it and set it on top, but that's a lot of work to serve and also risks stirring up sediment. Don't think 1 PSI is high enough for a cobra tap, but never tried it.
If you had a beer engine or a way to replicate one, you would use a spigot instead of the faucet and tie the two together with tubing.


That's one thing I haven't been able to do- come up with a cheap bastard beer engine. I have and have use the Valterra pump. It just takes too many pumps per pint.
 

digitalhifi

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Yep. That's what you need! You don't need a pump though. Those are a tool to pull the beer out, not required beyond the fun factor and impressing your friends.
Do you have a corny set up? If so, you need this + this and you're good to go. I don't see breathers on the NB site, which is a shame really. Finally, someone brings in the gear at the homebrew level, but they don't offer the tools that will truly get it off the ground? I don't have a problem with breathers, but if I had a pub I might not use one. If you're going to do this at home, you need to make concessions!

That NB link will give you what you need, but I post that more for ease. I'd break it down and get it from Ukbrewing.com just because Paul is a cool guy, and I've been a customer for awhile. He's the US source for all things cask.
They have breathers at NB. http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/aspirator-valve.html
 

Wynne-R

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The effect of the breather on the taste of the beer is a matter of hot debate. In controlled tests, most drinkers have been unable to distinguish between naturally conditioned and cask breather beers. However there are very good reasons why CAMRA totally disapproves of these devices.
-http://www.cambridge-camra.org.uk/ale/288/basics.html
He goes on to say basically if you sell enough beer you don’t need the gas. If the keg is naturally aspirated, it has to be fresh.
 
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CAMRA has many valid points for what they approve, for the commercial side I agree with them to a certain extent. On the homebrew side they have to understand we (homebrewers) do not have the same cash flow as a commercial brewer or the ability to go through 5 or 10 gallons of ale fast enough like a bar would. Homebrewers will have to make modifications just to attempt to make a cask style ale. They should be happy we are helping them move this idea along.
 

chucke

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Not meaning to be argumentative, but what do you care if CAMRA understands or not? Brew what you like, serve it in a manner that pleases you and let CAMRA do their thing in the UK. Perhaps an understanding of what CAMRA does offers beneficial insight, but you as an American homebrewer should never feel constrained by their opinions.
 

phenry

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You don't need to buy a firkin or pin to serve cask ales. If you have a corny you can just use that, all you need is another gas dip tube (the short stubby one). Replace the liquid dip tube with the gas one, rack your beer into the corny, dose with priming solution, give it a shot of CO2 to make sure the top is sealed, then wait about a week. Chill down to about 55*F on its side, then take it out, slightly angle it down with the two fittings perpendicular to the ground, and tap the lower fitting. The pressure inside the keg will allow you to dispense enough beer without forming an effective vacuum before you can tap the upper fitting to start allowing air into the keg. The only other hardware you need is a short liquid line with a cobra tap on the end.

I've done this a couple times, but it's only been for a one night kind of deal. The on-the-side orientation isn't very conducive to storing in a keezer, so you'd probably want a pump (or beer engine if you have more money than you know what to do with) to serve so you can keep your keg upright.
 
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Yea I have been thinking about doing this with a 5L mini keg. If it sucks I waste a gallon of brew, if I like it, heck mini kegs are cheap compared to a pin.
 

makomachine

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billf2112 said:
Yea I have been thinking about doing this with a 5L mini keg. If it sucks I waste a gallon of brew, if I like it, heck mini kegs are cheap compared to a pin.
Me too. My problem is that the mini kegs you buy online don't have a built in valve so I'm not sure how you would gravity pour from them. I thought about buying a commercial beer in one with the built in valve, but haven't got around to it.
 

chucke

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