For anyone who ventures down to their regular brewpub when a new cask is broached, the popularity of cask beer should come as no real surprise. However, for those who have never had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy beer right from a fresh cask, it can cause some confusion. It’s becoming more and more popular though, and not just with brewpubs either. For instance, the Washington Cask Beer Festival almost sold out as soon as tickets were announced.
The festival (held on April 9th) beings together beer lovers and brewers who use casks only – there are no bottles or cans to be found during this festival. It offers drinkers a chance to enjoy brews from all over the state during two sessions (one in the evening and one in the afternoon). While you likely didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s festival, it’ll be on again next year during the same time of year.
There are other celebrations that find cask beer coming to the public, as well – it’s a growing phenomenon that really helps brew lovers get to enjoy some of the truly great beers when they are at their peak in terms of freshness and flavor.
If you aren’t acquainted with cask beer, then a little refresher is needed. Cask brews differ from what you get in a bottle, or even what comes out of a tap in most instances. First off, it’s naturally carbonated rather than having carbonation forced into it. Carbonation happens right in the cask through the action of yeast consuming more sugar and putting off more gas.
Another difference here is that cask brews are usually not filtered. This leaves the brew cloudy but full of different flavors and with a much different flavor. As you might imagine, this offers a huge departure from bottled or canned beer and that difference can make or break your drinking experience. While not all drinkers are fond of casks, the majority find that they definitely prefer it.
Since you probably won’t be making it to the Washington Cask Beer Festival this year (and next year is still some time off), why not find out what brewpubs in your area have a “cask night”? It can really help give you a different perspective on what beer can be, as well as of the efforts that craft brewers go to so they can provide the best brew possible for their customers.