About casks

Some Random facts about our cask ales

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A few ale facts:

Ales take a lot of nursing when they land here with us. They arrive and are put in the cellar for 24 hours minimum to allow them to settle. They are then ‘tapped’ (basically you hit a widget into the barrel with a big hammer to allow some air in so the brewing process can finish)! They are left for 24 hours to ‘condition’, Any sooner than that and they are what’s called ‘green’. And won’t taste nice! The flavours won’t have blended and it will taste bitter. Yuk!

Obviously the taste is the reason you choose your beer. It should taste clean and crisp. We choose a variety of flavours to tickle you taste buds with great thought! There are many flavours available – you can even get a whale testicle beer!!!! I don’t think that will be on our menu anytime soon! A good first pull of a hand pump creates a good head also creating a good flavour. The other pulls are just topping the glass up. You may think your ‘not getting a full pint’ if you have a nice 5% head, but it’s actually adding to the flavour 🤯 If it tastes bitter it could be unconditioned. Sour and it may have gone off.

Here are some ‘bad smells and tastes’ you should be aware of:

Malt: Butter, caramel, sweetcorn, cabbage, ketchup (or thousand island dressing)

Yeast: old bananas, pear drops, burned rubber, medicinal — from bleach to cough drops, varnish

Bad Storage: skunky-mustiness, damp cardboard, cough syrup, emulsion paint, green apples, baby sick or old milk, cheese, sweat, mouthwash, sherry

Bad Brewing: Green apples, hot, unpleasant alcohol, tea or red wine texture, powderiness, raw cereal, pennies, soap.

As wine has grapes, ale has hops. Hops give the main aroma in most cask ales. What are hops? They are flowers! They are the flowers you see above our real ale pumps. They can add floral, fruity or even citrus aromas to beers.

Cask ales should be served at 11-13°C. Our are served at 11.5°, so the cooler end of the perfect scale. If it’s served too cold it can develop a ‘chill haze’ making it a little cloudy looking and making it lose its flavour. Serve it too warm and it will go flat much faster and ‘go off’ and leave you with a nasty sour/sulphur/cabbage taste! Ewww!!

In most cask ales there are ‘finings’ added towards the end of brewing. These finings help your beer be clear by removing the yeasty bits and the protein haze. Our casks are stored upright and we use a little floating widget which takes the beer from the top of the cask. This makes sure you always get the clearest pint possible as the finings are sat at the bottom of it! Some casks don’t have finings added but it’s very rare nowadays so a good cask ale should always be clear and crisp looking.

Whether you choose a standard ale glass or a dimpled glass a real ale should always be pleasing to the eye. Clean, clear, crisp, a nice 5% head (finger width ish), a slight condensation always looks pretty to me. It should be served in a sparkly clean glass. Glasses should be renovated regularly. Renovation takes the yeast build up that you can’t see off the glass.

Cellar Quality
The bit you can’t see 🙈
Clean and uncontaminated cellars are vital! Nothing should be stored in a cellar except for beer! No food, no chemicals, nothing! And cleaning a cellar should not be done with harsh chemicals, these risk contaminating the beer. It should be regularly – ours is jetwashed using only water. Clean lines are essential! They should be cleaned every 7 days using a high quality line cleaner. The beer you drink here is stored in a cellar with cooling system that keeps it at 10°c maximum at all times. Our beer is helped upstairs using pumps that run on gas to help you get a smoother pint. The lines here are approximately 2.5 pints long. The beer comes from the barrel, through a cooler, up the lines and into your pint glass. Our cellar is looked after by Coors and equipment is checked weekly for any faults.

So there you go… a few random facts about casks and how they need nursing!

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