Friend of the brewery Author Joe Wiebe is coming to Mikes Place in Nelson Monday June 17 at 7pm and Lions Head Pub in Robson June 16 at 5pm to launch his new book Craft Beer Revolution, and decided to do something special to mark the occasions! Brewmaster Mike Kelly is cask conditioning a pair of kegs of Full Nelson XXIPA, one for each event. Since we haven’t held a cask event in a very long time Mike thought he would give us a bit of back ground and some hints at what you can expect at the book launches.
Cask conditioned ale, often referred to as “Real Ale”, is simply unfiltered beer that has undergone a secondary fermentation, or “conditioning” in the vessel from which it is dispensed. The beer matures in the cask, a process which can take anywhere from less than a week to several months, or even years, for certain beer styles. Additional hops, fruit or other ingredients are often added at this stage. The secondary fermentation produces a low level of carbonation which helps to emphasize the subtle nuances of the beer. Cask ale is typically served at “cellar” temperature, (10-12 degrees Celsius) which better releases the flavours and aromatic properties of the beer. The beer is dispensed without any extraneous carbon dioxide or mixed gas, either by gravity, through a simple spigot driven into a bung (keystone) on the end of the cask, or through a “beer engine” which pumps the beer from the cask, wherever it is being stored, to the bar.
Cask ale provides a unique opportunity to sample beer in its purest form. Cask beer is always served fresh; once tapped, it has a limited shelf life and is served immediately. Cask ale is invariably local; it is live beer that does not react well to the repeated jostling of long distance transportation. Cask ale is traditional; it has been prepared this way for centuries. It exposes the consumer to a host of unique and complex flavours, aromas, body and mouthfeel not experienced in filtered, highly carbonated beer. Cask ale is fun! It provides the opportunity for the publican, cellar person, or brewer to swing a really big wooden mallet whilst pounding the tap into the keystone prior to dispense, often in front of a thirsty, patient and reverential crowd of true beer aficionados, and what could be more fun than that?