Homebrewers in Austin Texas dare to emulate “real” cask beer

Cask ExperimentLast weekend a daring group of area homebrewers in Austin assembled at a secret location, bringing with them a wide array of traditionally made examples of British real ale both of the contemporary and historical variety.  Thirteen real ale cask conditioned beers made by local homebrewers were served in firkins, corney kegs and cube containers (the kind used by many British breweries including Fullers). All of the beer was served at roughly 1 to 1.5v of pressure via either gravity or using one of five handpumps. Bitters, milds, porters and several historic examples gleaned from http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/ were sampled.  Vertical tastings of Fullers Vintage and also Gales Old Ale were also appreciated later in the evening along with a wide assortment of British victuals including sausage rolls, cottage pie, bangers and mash and assorted sweets.  The effort was spawned in part as a reaction by over zealous Zymurologists to weigh in on the controversial subject of what really constitutes ”cask” beer. Second TableWithin the colonies cask often refers to serving a brewery’s normal offering in a firkin or pin with a healthy addition of hops or wide range or other ingredients (sometimes 4 or 5). The resulting concoction might be flavorful, but it rarely constitutes what some of us know as “cask” beer. But we must concede few American brewers, much less discerning local beer drinkers, have had the opportunity to taste well made and properly conditioned and dispensed “cask” beer similar to those found across the pond.  Attendees were duly impressed by the lively nature of many of the offerings. Some of the more contemporary low gravity offerings were flavorful and well balanced while a few of the higher gravity historical representations that included both a porter and a Whitbread Double Brown were rich with just the right amount of hop bitterness. Fullers Vintage FlightIn conclusion the effort was by all accounts a successful one and it shall be repeated. I hope others take up the challenge and do the same so that one day everyone in the Americas understands why there is a difference between what many are doing in America and the venerable traditions in the UK. At the moment precious few are creating real cask beer. In Denver, Hogshead Brewery creates, conditions and dispenses real ale in cask true to form. Hopefully more brewers will attempt to build on those old traditions in the US. If you come across any of note please let us know.

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