Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Full house for casks in Falls Church, Va.

The 'quiet' cask festival got quite noisy this evening at Mad Fox Brewing Company.

Even when it's not a festival at this brewpub, in the heart of Falls Church, Virginia, there are six hand-pump beer engines arranged behind the bar for serving house-brewed cask ale. Bartenders pour from three of the lines, while allowing additional casks to come into 'proper condition' on the other three. Serve no cask ale before its time.

But, from 4-11 November, brewmaster/owner Bill Madden and brewer Charlie Buettner have invited other breweries to send their cask beers as well, to be served through the pub's cask system, as part of Mad Fox Cask Week.

Tonight, the pair invited local brewers to attend. I saw representatives and brewers from Dominion, Flying Dog, Gordon-Biersch, Growlers, Lost Rhino (who arrived in style, in a stretch limousine), Port City, St. George, and Sweetwater Tavern.

Pictured above, are:

The cask ales were:

  • Oliver Ales, Baltimore Maryland: Cask Punk (dry-hopped with Cascade hops)
  • Old Dominion Brewing, Dover, Delaware: Baltic Porter (dry-hopped with Perle and Bravo hops)
  • Lost Rhino Brewing, Ashburn, Virginia: Face Plant IPA (dry-hopped with locally grown Columbus hops)
  • Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery, North Carolina: Brown Ale
  • Mad Fox Rye Baby Pale Ale (80 IBUs)
  • Heavy Seas Brewing, Baltimore, Maryland: Winter Storm Imperial ESB (wet-hopped with West Coast Cascade hops)

The pub was filled to capacity. I'd like to say everyone was a real ale fancier, but a large continent was comprised of Democrats, celebrating the local election returns and lamenting the Virginia results. I didn't ask if they were real ale fans.

There is no entrance fee for Mad Fox Cask Week; simply pay for the beer you order. Casks from other breweries have been served before tonight; several others will be tapped through the end of the festival on Friday, the 11th. For more details, go to the website or Facebook page.


  • See more photos: here.
  • IBU is an acronym for International Bittering Unit, a measure of the bittering power of hops in beer. Just as sweet can balance sour in cooking, so the sweetness of malted barley can balance hop bitterness in brewing. 80 BUs, however, as in the Rye Baby Pale Ale from Mad Fox, does indicate a beer with a healthy smack of bitterness.
  • Dry-hopping refers to a process of adding hops to a finished beer rather than during boiling. It's akin to a cook adding basil to a pasta sauce on the plate rather than when cooking. Hops, like basil, are an herb.
  • Wet-hopping refers to using very fresh hops within days or hours after they have been picked, rather than after having been cured and stored.
  • I was in attendance, not only as a fan of real ale, but in my 'official' capacity as a representative for Select Wines, Inc., the distributor of the beers of Heavy Seas Brewing and Oliver Ales, in northern Virginia.

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