Friday, 20 March 2015

Cask versus keg versus keg versus cask versus.....


       its the morning after the night before. My head has a dull ache, my mouth is socky, my eyes aren't functioning properly and my memory is shot. I found my sandwiches in my bag and some bits of food on the floor. What shall I do to remedy this malaise, I thought? I'll write a blog. Here it is.

Last night as part of Sheffield beer week I was at Shakespeares with Dan Baxter from Abbeydale, Robin Baker from the past, Sam from the Siren, two other Abbeydale brewers including one who used to brew at Mordue, Clare, Josh and the Shakespeares staff. On the bar was a cask version of Bigfoot red rye ale from Abbeydale. Along with a keg version of the same.


Bigfoot is brewed with hops. Yes, that's right. Hops contain lupulin and grow on bines. The hops used have names and I recall them being called Amarillo, and another one. And carafe, which may be a malt. My memory is not helping me out here. But this just increases the science involved. Well. It doesn't.....

The beer definitely had rye in it and used softer malts (my term - cho welcome) to do something with the rye. The worry was that the rye would hide the hoppiness. I think to some extent it did.

Having said hello to Robin Baker I quickly got a half of each of the keg and the cask. The cask had cleared fine but was, in comparison, a little muddy. The hops were indeed impeded in the cask version, but less so in the keg - and both smelled fantastic. The keg was, obviously, colder, and a little more fizzy. This is what lets down keg beers, but also improves the experience of drinking heavier and stronger beers in the format. The cellar temperature was about right which made the comparison a bit easier.

Mr Dan bought me a pint of the cask and I enjoyed it more as I drank more of it, and I kept a 3rd of the keg aside to enjoy and contrast. Later, when we had moved onto tasting other delights, a man who looked like Gary Numan bemoaned our judgement that in this one, and just this one, instance, the keg version was better than the cask. Thinking about it now, it could actually have been Gary Numan. I mean, he surely likes real ale....

Later we tried Hobo, a hoppy Welsh lager from Tiny Rebel, as well as the odd smoked sour wheat ale from Siren and of course, their stunning Maiden blended and barrel aged ale which I will write more about in my next post. As the night drew to a close I had some more keg Bigfoot and this confirmed to me that iy was better than the cask.

And so it was, that a science had happened.

So what does this tell us about the merits of keg and cask? Absolutely nothing. Apart from that, some beers are better suited to keg, and some to cask. Simples. Irrespectve of which, I intend t go on drinking both.

Your science editor

Dr Beefalot.

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