Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pic(k) of the Week: A Clear, Cool, & Bubbly Cask Ale

The next time that your server or bartender tells you your pint of cask-conditioned beer should be warm, flat, and cloudy, take your leave politely but quickly. This well-meaning poltroon has no idea what she or he is talking about; you certainly wouldn't want to taste anything he or she might be flogging. Gag!

Cask-conditioned ale is NEVER cloudy (or chunky, as it was described to me recently), it is NOT room temperature or warmer, and it is NEVER un-carbonated. It is ...

Beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed (usually a cask), and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.

A clear, bubbly cask on a hot day (01)

Cask-conditioning is a dynamic, on-going process, that begins at the brewery but continues through to the pub or festival. The publican is as vital to a good cask as the brewer.

Even on a summer day, a glass of cask-conditioned beer should be cool and bright and bubbly. Anything less, and it would NOT be cask-conditioned.


  • The photo was taken at the Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest, where temperatures were in the low 90s. The ale —Loose Cannon Hop3 American IPA, from Heavy Seas Brewing, of Baltimore, Maryland— hand-pulled via a beer engine from a cask, was served at 52 °F.
  • More on serving cask ale on hot summer days: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virgina— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas Brewing.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as subject. Commercial use requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

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