Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Announcing: 1st Annual Virginia Cask Ale Festival

It's new; it's official; it's Virginia; it's cask ale.

Saturday, 21 April, the Capital Ale House —in downtown Richmond— will play host to the first ever Tap Into Virginia Cask Fest: a Virginia cask ale festival featuring ten 13 firkins from ten 11 different Virginia breweries— a fundraiser for the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.

Tap into Virginia Cask Fest

The lineup [updated 20 April 2012] will be:
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Company
    • Devils Backbone White Stag IPA -7.0% abv, 50 IBUs. A wheat IPA that blends aspects of American IPAss, British IPAs, and wheat ales. Brewed with 4 types of malted & un-malted wheat, kettle hopped with both American and English hops, and dry hopped with East Kent Goldings.
    • Devils Backbone Wit Bier - 4.5% abv, 15 IBUss. A Belgian-style witbier that is hazy straw in color, light in body, with a refreshing fruity spicy finish. Spiced with coriander, orange peel, szechuan peppercorn, and brewed with an aromatic Belgian yeast strain.

  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
    • Hardywood Bourbon Barrel Quad
    • Hardywood Hoplar: un-oaked and dryhopped.

  • Legend Brewing Company
    • Legend Golden IPA (dryhopped with Citra hops and aged with French oak chips).

  • Lost Rhino Brewing Company
    • Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA: 6.2% abv, 65 IBUs, with Cascade and Centennial hops.

  • Mad Fox Brewing Company
    • Mad Fox Wee Heavy Scotch Ale: A strong Scotch Ale, full-bodied, dark rich brew. Lightly hopped with English varieties. 8.6% abv

  • O'Connnor Brewing Company
    • O'Connor Great Dismal IPA - black IPA infused with “Old Havana Cuban Coffee Blend” from Virginia Espresso in Norfolk, chocolate, and vanilla beans. ABV- 8%.

  • Port City Brewing Company
    • Port City Monumental IPA: Magnum, Centennial, Amarillo, and Liberty hops. 6.3% abv.

  • St. George Brewing Company
    • St. George Imperial Pale Ale - 10% abv English style pale ale hopped and dry-hopped with UK Fuggles.

  • Starr Hill Brewing Company
    • Starr Hill Double Platinum - dryhopped with Centennial hops

  • Williamsburg AleWerks
    • Williamsburg AleWerks Choca-Latte (Double Coffee Stout infused with Dutch chocolate and vanilla beans)

  • Wild Wolf Brewing Company
    • Wild Wolf Tomtom Founders Festival Ale: White IPA/wit, fermented with more than 60 pounds Virginia wildflower honey, and dry-hopped with a pound of Cascade hops. 70 IBUs, 5.5% abv.

Purchase tickets on-line at the festival website, and, in person, at the Capital Ale House and at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery during tasting room hours.

Here are the details:

  • Date - Saturday, 21 April 2012
  • Two 4-hour sessions: noon-4 and 6-10.
  • 200 people per session
  • Admission is $20 in advance, and $25 day of fest.
  • Admission includes 8 two-ounce samples and a tasting glass.
  • Additional tasting tickets will be available at the festival for $2 apiece.
  • Facebook page.
  • Capital Ale House:
    623 East Main Street (6th and Main Street)
    Richmond, VA 23219
    Phone: 804-780-ALES

Organizer Mike Killelea —chairman of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild and brewer at Legend Brewing Company— is passionate about cask-conditioned ale. He plans for the Tap Into Virginia Cask Fest to be a showcase for cask-conditioned real ale experienced as it should be.

Thus, casks are to be delivered —to the Music Hall venue at the Capital Ale House— several days ahead of time. Upon their receipt, Killelea will immediately place the casks up on stillage. After they have had sufficient time to settle, he'll vent, fine *, and tap them. "No hoisting casks onto a bar, tapping them, and serving them without time for proper conditioning," he assures. He'll keep the casks cool using the tried-and-true method of evaporative cooling (that is, with wet towels), and serve them by simple gravity tapping.

Killelea and fellow Guild organizers have high hopes for this to be the first of many more cask festivals to come —of, for, and by Virginia breweries. But, until April 21st: stay 'real' thirsty, my friends.


  • All profits from the event, after expenses, will go directly to the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.
  • Cask ales are never filtered, but may be (and often are) fined: adding ingredients which encourage the precipitation of yeast and proteins, rendering a beer bright and clear. Cask ale —especially as produced in the U.K.— is fined with isinglass, a product derived from the swim bladders of certain fish. Vegetarians take note.
  • Breweries participating at the festival can choose to opt out of fining.
  • Any Virginia brewery which is interested in participating, but does not own a firkin, should contact Killelea. He has a limited number casks available to loan.
  • A firkin is a particular size of cask: 10.8 US gallons (the equivalent of 9 U.K, gallons). Read more on cask ale at CaskAleUSA.
  • Killelea pronounces his surname: Kill uh LAY.


  1. Sounds great, Tom, but I'm sure you know there's no such thing as a "first annual" anything. One only knows if it is annual the secOnd time around.

  2. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true, a lot of people come not just for the alcohol but for the atmosphere, the food, the entertainment


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