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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Wooden cask, deconstructed.

Wooden cask, deconstructed

A wooden cask, deconstructed...
1) TOP HEAD (purple arrow)
The entire front disc. Even though it's referred to as "top", it faces forward, not up. It's circumferenced by a wooden ridge called a chimb (white arrow), or chime. The head consists of four planks: two crescent-moon shaped pieces called cants (bright green arrows). Between them are the two middles (blue arrows). The lower cant is where the keystone bung sits.
2) BACK HEAD (not pictured)
The back of the cask.
3) PITCH (forest green arrow)
The BELLY of the cask, made up of several wooden planks called staves (aquamarine arrows). The shive bung (fuscia arrow) sits at the top of the pitch.
4) QUARTERs (forest green arrows)
The two sections of the belly between the pitch and the front and rear chimes, respectively.
5) HOOPS (red arrows)
Metal bands keep the heads and staves securely in place.

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BITS & PIECES

1) SOFT SPILE (pale green arrow)
Porous bamboo peg inserted into the tut in the shive bung. The tut (not pictured) is an indentation in the center of the shive bung. When venting a cask, the tut is hammered through, and the spile inserted.
2) STILLAGE (dark blue arrow)
Stand on which the cask sits, angled slightly forward toward the top face, the bottom of the back chimb no higher than the level of the top of the keystone.

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MORE

1) WOOD OR METAL
A beer cask can be made of wood or metal although stainless steel is much more the common choice these days. Although metal casks are welded together and don't have staves as do wooden ones, one can still refer to a cask's heads, chimbs, keystone, shive bung, spiles, stillage, etc. Ditto for plastic casks.

2) FIRKINS
  • Casks come in many sizes. A firkin is one size of cask, equal to 10.8 U.S. gallons.
  • The cask above is NOT a firkin, but a 10 U.S. gallon wooden cask. It did, however, contain cask-conditioned ale. *.
  • Volume sizes here are given in U.S. measure. Thus, a 10.8 U.S.-gallon firkin (U.S.) is identical in volume to a 9 U.K.-gallon firkin (U.K.)
3) FIRKIN DIMENSIONS
Here.

4) WEIGHT OF STAINLESS STEEL FIRKIN:
  • Empty: 24 pounds (11.24 kilograms).
  • Full: 114 pounds (51.71 kilograms).
  • One gallon (of water) = 8.34 pounds (3.78 kilograms)
  • The weight of one gallon of beer will be a bit more than that of water, due to its specific gravity (weight of unfermented starch, sugar, etc.)
5) WEIGHT OF WOODEN FIRKIN
?? ... but more than 90.072 pounds, the weight of 10.8-gallons of water.

6) More CASK VOLUMES
Here.

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NOTA BENE

A barrel and a cask, while superficially similar, serve two distinct purposes.
A barrel is for aging.
A cask is for cask-conditioning.
A barrel-aged beer is well-aged; a cask-conditioned beer is, well, fresh. It's the package and the intent.

Fobbing at the Tut

Fobbing at the Tut:
A series of occasional posts on good cask cellarmanship.


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  • * Photo adapted from a photo of a 10-gallon oak cask (thus a cask but not a firkin) of Loose Cannon, an American IPA, brewed by Heavy Seas of Baltimore, Maryland, tapped at Bilbo Baggins Restaurant, in Alexandria (Old Town), Virginia, on 2 March 2012.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos taken (or noted) by me, posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as the subject.
  • See the photo on Flickr: here.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • For more from YFGF:

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