I’ll admit I’m rather new to “cask ale”, or “cask conditioned beer”, but I am definitely a new fan. Truthfully, I have had it during my numerous trips to the UK but I wasn’t aware it was called anything different, and in fact its called “real ale” there. So what is cask ale you ask?
Cask Ale is not pasteurized, or artificially carbonated. The beer is simply put straight into a “cask” rather than a CO2 carbonated keg where it undergoes a second fermentation. You might call it “naturally” packaged. The carbonation is from the natural fermentation process and not pumped with CO2 or Nitro. Casks are supposed to be kept at room temperature and so the result is a pour that may appear flat and warm to the untrained palate. However, during my last trip to Indiana, my brother-in-law’s brewery, The People’s Brewing Company (http://peoplesbrew.com/) introduced me to it both at their own taproom and another pub in town. It was fantastic. The lower carbonation allowed for more flavor and it goes down smooth without the overly carbonated side effects that CO2 can produce.
Sure on a hot summer day it may not be my first choice but I sure hope more breweries, bars, and drinking establishments add cask ale to their offerings. It is a great way to mix things up and really gives you an “authentic” or “traditional” beer experience. I highly recommend it so all you beer drinkers out there, do yourself a favor and search out an establishment that offers it and let us know your thoughts.
Here is a great article on the subject that is certainly worth the read. http://news.yahoo.com/forget-warm-and-flat–cask-ale-production-on-the-upswing-in-the-u-s–094154846.html