what is cask
ale (a.k.a. real ale)?
From London's Independent Real Ale Guide...
"Real ale or cask-conditioned beer is a natural, living product. At the
end of the production process - using the finest malted barley, hops,
yeast and pure water - the beer is not filtered, pasteurised
or artificially carbonated. It's placed into casks (called firkins),
often with extra hops for aroma, and delivered in unfinished form to
pubs. Here the beer enjoys a secondary fermentation in cask that
creates a full, mature flavour. In UK pubs, when the yeast has
settled, the beer is drawn by the familiar hand-pump attached to a
suction pump known as a beer engine. Some pubs without cellars still
serve beer straight from the cask using a simple gravity tap."
The Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting utilizes simple gravity taps to serve its real
This is fresh ale the way it
was meant to be served! Attendees at the Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting
(ACAT) will be amazed at the complexity and smooth, delicious character
these special real ales. The beer lineup at ACAT
will include cask versions of some classic styles, some
dry-hopped versions (with fresh hops added to the cask),
and some surprise
specialty beers with exceptional ingredients! A panel of beer
will even award "best of show" ribbons.
casks are typcially elegant, low alcohol, golden ales, pale ales,
bitters, mild ales or dark ales. Many brewers in the USA (and a
few in the UK) include special ingredients and/or processes with the
10.8 gallons of beer placed in their casks (spices, fruit, wood,
chocolate, etc.). Despite our best efforts in 2013, we could not
secure any UK ales for ACAT, but for 2014 we are working EARLY with
several importers to try and insure that a few, traditional UK cask
ales are included at ACAT. This allows for a fun comparison by
attendees of traditional UK and speciality USA casks.
Which do you prefer? Stay tuned for updates!
should always be conditioned and stored at cool temperatures (50-60
degrees F) because warm conditioning temperatures make for exploding
cask bungs and a tremendous mess. Cask ales can't be shipped in warm
months on non-refrigerated trucks, and this explains why casks seem
less prevalent in the U.S. during summer months. Casks taste best when served no
warmer than 50-55 degrees F, and cask ales should offer a soft,
subdued, bright carbon dioxide sparkle and should never be flat - with
occasional exceptions involving well-aged, port-like, high-gravity old
ales or barleywines.”
-- Owen Ogletree, Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting Founder, Director and Head Judge.