Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Cask

Portsmouth, NH -

Just wanted to throw some needed attention in the direction of cask-conditioned beer. A few days ago the New York Times had an article about the re-emergence of cask beer at bars in New York, and around the country, in the last couple of years. Thank God.

Cask ale, to refresh your memory, is unfiltered and unpasteurized beer served by hand pump, without the addition of carbon dioxide. That makes it a lot smoother, frothier and heartier.

The cask also promotes a more natural process of serving beer. It has a shorter shelf life that requires better tap planning and encourages local distribution. In other words, think globally drink locally.

Plus it just tastes better. Fans and friends well know my take on McNeill's in Brattleboro, VT, where they constantly offer three different cask beers: Duck's Breath Bitter, ESB, and Dead Horse IPA. When I lived in Da Bratt back in 2004-05, I spent a couple of weeks sampling their other offerings like Ruby Ale, Slopbucket Brown, Big Nose Blonde, and Wassail. But all along I knew what had to be done, and with the exception of occasionally sampling the seasonal rarities, I haven't ordered anything out of the carbon tap ever since. If you have the opportunity of cask ale at your disposal I would suggest you do the same.

Here in New Hampshire, Strange Brew in Manchester offers one cask, usually Shipyard's Old Thumper Ale. If anybody knows of any others, please post it in the comments section.

Look at that healthy cask glow!

P.S. The Patriots are unbelievable.


DJ Moodswing said...

I definitely appreciated the cask-conditioned ale at McNeill's. You often see their brews in bottle form (I wanna say Dead Horse and Firehouse, although I'm hazy on this) around Boston-area package stores, but it's just not the same. Strange Brew does not seem to advertise their cask-conditioned beers heavily, although I was quite satisfied after getting tipsy off 2-dollar Guinness the last time I was there with my rugby team.

Jenny said... So I called a Congresswoman's office the other day to see if she was coming to the event we are hosting.. the staffers response? " Well considering she is dead I would say she will not be attending" Where were you on THAT one BTB? This is what I need you for! To tell me when important people die and I shouldn't CALL them anymore!


CB said...

Back to beer... my opening experience with cask beer was in London and I wasn't impressed. I blamed it on the beer rather than the style, and I've always wondered what my favorite american beers would taste like if served this way. Hopefully you can find the Seattle spots for me this winter

BTB said...

Jenny, you never called me.
Chris, they always have a cask at E-9.

Jeb said...

Personally BTB, I preferred the "traditional" old thumper as opposed to the cask when I had it at the Shipyard restaurant or whatever the hell in Kennebunk. I will agree with CB and say that not all beers may be better on cask. My experience here is limited. That said, I would cry for a McNeill's cask condition over whatever piss I'll end up drinking tonight.