Why Cask Ale Rocks

Cask ale is important to each of us in very different ways. Here myself, Mark (homebrewer), Mark (beer writer), Shea (young female drinker) and Glyn (bar manager) say why it’s important to us.

I brew ale and love what I do. What other job exists where you can be part-Alchemist, part-Scientist and part-Artist. Brewing is an act of creation and a job driven by passion for great beer. It is such a social profession, especially in this country where the pub and having a pint are tradition and part of a proud culture.

I am lucky to be involved in both brewery and pub. Waking hours are spent brewing and managing and looking at processes and calculating and general left hemisphere action. This blends perfectly with pulling recipes from that cerebral right hemisphere. Then at nights it’s home to the pub, where I live upstairs and can see my ales in action. Pulled at the bar and served with a smile, the locals having a laugh and chatting about sports, work and beer. I have many a warm, fuzzy moment getting home and watching people enjoy the fruits of many hours of labour.

The same applies to the burgeoning world of social media. Checking Facebook and Twitter and even emails that wax lyrical about the flavours and aromas and drinkability of something that I was a part of creating. It makes me proud and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

But it’s the brewing that always captivates. From tasting the water when I arrive at the brewery, to crunching merrily away on a handful of the finest British Maris Otter malt that money can buy, brewing is a series of tests. Whether they are sensory or based on science, technology and compromise, it is these little things that make brewing great.

This country is so lucky to have such a unique climate with regards to growing barley and hops and providing  us with the perfect brewing environment. There are only a handful of places that can grow hops in the world, part of the reason why the brewing tradition is so strong here.

It is hops that I love the most and ale is the perfect vessel for big, bold hoppy flavours. Sourced from the great hop-growing countries of the world, aromas and flavours of pine-needles, grapefruit, strawberries, sandalwood, chamomile, citrus fruit and herbal, grassy goodness abound. Blending the right hop varieties and characters together is where the art, the craft is greatest. Melding the chosen aromas with the malty, roasted and biscuit-like characters that the grains provide allows our artistic side to come through. Part-imagining and part-experience, brewing is the art of science.

If there was one thing I could change in the UK, it would be for people to understand what actually goes into beer. To see the effort and the unseen and often unknown amount of work that is behind that quenching liquid in your glass in a pub. To understand the almost religious fervour that brewers have when it comes to their craft. To know about the ingredients that have been used, chosen from the finest. We are artisans and scientists. We can wake up in the middle of the night, dream-flavours on our tongue, a beer concept fresh in our minds. We can create that beer and have it in a cask within a month. That is something that inspires me. Beer is awesome.

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2 thoughts on “Why Cask Ale Rocks

    • I don’t think there is a simple answer to that. Some people prefer the smoothness and soft carbonation that cask gives, others prefer the tickle of carbonation and the push of bitterness that bottle and keg can bring out. Do I think that some beers are more suited to cask and some more to keg or bottle? Absolutely.

      I really believe that as a form of dispense and due to the interesting condition that cask ale can have, it absolutely rocks! In terms of drinkability, can cask ale be beaten? I know some would argue that great Czech lagers would be a close contender…

      In terms of the actual brewing process itself, something that I touched on a bit in the post, I love how much fun cask ale brewing is. I enjoy the short shelf-life and the freshness of the product. I love the simplicity of the process and that the beer is put into a cask in an unadulterated form. Part of me enjoys the fact that the beer needs to be finished elsewhere by a skilled cellar manager (whereas the other part of me frets like crazy!). It’s a joy to find a pint of your beer in a pub served how it’s meant to be!

      Does beer need to be served in a cask to be awesome? No, but you can get awesome beer in a cask :)

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