Cask Ale

I recently returned from a trip to the UK, where I enjoyed a couple of weeks of wonderful British Ale. I don’t think I drank the same beer twice the entire time i was there. Every time I walked in a pub, I drank something different. Not only was I drinking great ales, I only drank cask ale. My last trip was a decade ago, and at that time there were almost no cask ales being sold in Britain. Since that time, CAMRA (CAMpaign for Real Ale) has worked hard to re-introduce Britain to the style of beer that was sold for generations; Cask conditioned ale. Modern beers are carbonated via CO2 and pushed with the same gas. Cask ale is beer that is conditioned in the cask, and drawn from said cask with a device known as a beer engine.

A beer engine is a pump that literally draws the cask and pumps it into the glass. To make the thing work, the bartender grabs the handle and pulls. As the handle is drawn back, the beer comes up through the spout into the glass. Served at cellar temperature, the beer is wonderful, fresh, and is how the brewers mean their beer to be drunk. It is occasionally done in the US, but not near often enough. It has come back so strongly in Britain that every single pub I went into, and let me tell you I went into quite a few, had cask ale. There were often more cask ales than CO2 pushed beer. I feel cheated somehow, by not being able to get these wonderful beers here. Of all the beers I tried, I would have to say that Fuller’s Seafarers was probably my favorite, though I didn’t have a bad beer the whole trip.

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~ by tardoin on September 6, 2011.

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