Roll out the Barrel

barrelI love cask conditioned ale. The traditional ales of the United Kingdom are best served lightly carbonated and at cellar temperature, not flat and room temperature as Todd will tell you as he serves you our ESB !
Traditionally beer from the United Kingdom (and from NZ, Australia, the US and pretty much everywhere) was served carbonated naturally in a cask .Beer was run into the cask with a little of its fermentation left to go. The last of the fermentation gently carbonated the beer and also created subtle flavour changes in the beer, the beers were either served straight fro the cask via a tap in the cellar or pumped up to the bar via a handpump. The beer needs to be cared for , ripened and allowed to drop clear. Today these traditional cask beers are resurgent in the UK however they are rare in NZ. Increasingly a middle way has developed with de-carbonated kegs , and bags being poured from handpumps. This way doesn’t need a dedicated cellar like cask beer and is far easier to serve and manage but also doesn’t reach the same level of complexity or carbonation that properly cared for real ale does, We regularly serve our ESB and sometimes our Amber like this. Someday I hope to be in a position to offer these beers in proper cask conditioned form.
On the 10th April we will be offering something special at LBQ. As part of our tap takeover there we will be tapping a wee wooden cask of ESB on the bar top. While most casks are today made of stainless steel once they were made of wood, either washed or lined with pitch to prevent the wood from dominating the flavour of the beer. In this instance the wooden cask has been borrowed from The Garage Project and his pitch lined with just a little exposed wood around the fittings meaning the beer will be very lightly flavoured with wood. The beer inside is bright beer meaning the beer hasn’t gone through the cask conditioning process, however it will be very interesting to see how the beer has reacted to the wood contact.
As well as the wooden barrel of ESB , we will have some of the last of batch 3 Hoppy Wheat, fresh batch 2 Pacific Blonde, Amber and Le Chaleureux Rivage on tap. The LBQ team will be rustling up some canapés , I will be on hand , pint in hand , and there may even be another special beer on tap from another point of the compass.