I had my first cask beer this weekend.
I have of course had other people’s cask beer before, and as I used to work as a brewer I’ve even made other people’s cask beer before. But this was the first time I’ve put beer entirely made by me, to my own recipe, into cask.
My mate Ro wanted me to brew for his house warming party and reckoned he would need a firkin’s worth to keep the thirsty masses satisfied.
I was slightly apprehensive about this, as using a proper cask means there’s more things that can go wrong. My experience of working at a brewery wasn’t a great help as there they had a racking tank so finings were added in bulk and as the beer was cooled before fermentation was completed it wasn’t normally necessary to add priming sugar. I don’t have that degree of control in my home brew set up I asked for advice from a friend at the Cambridge Moonshine brewery, as I know they fine and prime each cask individually there.
His instructions were pretty straight forward so a week ago I filled, primed and fined the cask with beer I had in two plastic pressure barrels I was using as conditioning tanks. I took the cask round to my mates garage, where he had a tilting stillage set up, and left it to settle.
On Friday the moment of truth arrived and it was time to tap the cask. I gave Ro the honour, which was just as well as the beer was a little lively and he ended up wearing about a pint of it.
Unfortunately I seem to have set my phone to take small pictures, so the pictures in this post won't live up to the usual low picture quality on this blog.
Samples were poured from the cask and I was pleased to see the beer had turned out very well. It had good crisp hop flavour from the Styrian goldings, plenty of body from the malts used and lots of condition. In fact it was so good we had to have several samples.
On Saturday the beer wasn’t quite as good, I suspect our lack of a decent cellar (or cellarmanship!) let us down as the beer had lost a lot of condition and was a little bit flat and definitely sweeter. It still seemed to go down very well though, the cask was empty by the end of the night.
The recipe for the beer was:
Pale malt (Maris otter) 7.15 kg
Munich malt 1.2 kg
Wheat malt 0.35 kg
Cara malt 0.15 kg
Choc malt 0.15 kg
Fuggles at start 80g
Styrian Goldings 10min from end 40g
Styrian Goldings steeped when cooling 40g
Styrian Goldings dry in CTs 40g
Yeast: Hop back
Volume 46 l