My dear friend Kevin hates cask beer. He hates nitro beer too. Why does Kevin hate things like these? I wish I could blame on being old fashioned but if that were the case you would think he would like an old method of serving beer like cask. His issue is carbonation. Kevin loves high carbonation. He would carb everything to well over 3 volumes if he could. If Kevin ever takes control of the world you know what you are in for. Because of that, he dislikes the lower carbonation that inherently comes with cask beer. Kevin would probably rate cask beer 0 stars. Fortunately this site is not Kevin’s therefore his opinion doesn’t matter. It is, however, a nice little intro to me talking about cask beer.
I, like Kevin, also enjoy high carbonation in beers. Not much beats a super effervescent saisons on a hot day. Being in Florida there are plenty of those and I am a card carrying member of #TeamSaison. Wait, there are cards? I need to get mine. Despite the love of bubbly I enjoy nuance as well. Oddly enough Nuance is the name of a saison that Kevin’s brewery makes. With said nuance I enjoy different levels of carbonation and with that my enjoyment of cask beers.
I’m not going to go on about the history or cask or what makes a beer cask. I’m not a scholar on it, or anything for that matter. Plus, you have the internet (hopefully) to look it up.
I enjoy the traditional English styles of beer that are commonly served in cask. Give me a lovely dark mild, ordinary bitter, ESB, English IPA or porter on cask nearly any day. I first had a cask beer at an English pub (in America) out of curiosity. What are these weird handles at the end of the bar? Cask? What is cask. Fullers London Porter, ESB and London Pride were emblazoned on the these shield like shapes on the front of the handles. The bartender pulling and releasing said handle and doing it over and over to dispense the beer into the rightful nonic pint. This was new. This was intriguing. This was awesome.
I ordered a pint of the ESB and watched in amazement at each draw from the faucet spilled into the glass. This bartender, despite not caring about my utter enjoyment, was creating a moment for me. My first cask beer.
It was…ok. A moderate bit of diacetyl hit my nose and also my lips. I came to find out that this wasn’t an issue with the beer so much as the pub didn’t really keep good care of there lines. I didn’t hold it against cask beer. I would try again.
Luckily visiting Yards in Philly brought me a better experience with their Brawler, a dark mild, on hand pump. Silky texture along with big bursts of chocolate and coffee in a light, easy drinking beer. Now I was hooked on cask.
Today if I see any style on a hand pull at a pub or brewery I am, more often than not, going to order one and be very happy. Writing this about cask beer right now has got me craving a mild from Forest & Main or a bitter from Magnolia Brewing. These things are that damn tasty.
My first visit to Magnolia’s pub in the Haight neighborhood of San Francisco was not one that you would think should be a pleasant memory. Before arriving at their little spot I had severely burnt my feet on the hot sands of Ocean Beach on a day that exceeded 100 degrees. I was mistaken for a begger outside of a Safeway as I applied aloe to my stupid feet. Spanging is a word I learned this day being a combination of spare changing.
I was in pain physically and now mentally but all that changed when a 20 oz pint of hand pulled bitter was placed in front of me in the Haight. My day turned around. My feet still hurt, it was still over 100 degrees out and in a pub with no air conditioning but my mind was in a far better place than 30 minutes before. Cask beer helped this.
While I can not make any claim to cask beer having any sort of medical effects I can say that cask beer is awesome and Kevin is usually really awesome too. He’s just dead wrong about cask beer. Sorry, not sorry Kevin.