Day 306

Last night, The Only Cafe, a gritty yet cool bar in Toronto, held a cask night featuring five cask-conditioned beers from the brewery at which I work. This wasn’t especially different from any other cask night, except that for the first time, one of the casks  contained Aztec Mochaccino, a beer I had designed using as inspiration both Cocoa Inferno, a beer brewed by fellow first-year students Jen Nadwodny and Kellye Robertson, and Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer, a now defunct light American lager from Arizona that had few redeeming features other than each bottle contained a hot Serrano chili pepper. Using fresh unfiltered nut brown ale as a base, I had added cocoa nibs, dark-roasted espresso beans and raw jalapeño pepper to the cask and allowed it to mature for a week. My vision was that the the coffee and chocolate notes would compliment the sweet ale, while the jalapeño would add just a bit of warmth without being blisteringly hot. However, not having tried this before, I was unsure about quantities–too much coffee or cocoa would overwhelm the ale, too much jalapeño would make it undrinkable, and too little of all three would not be tasted at all.

A modern stainless steel cask.

Unlike kegged or bottled beer, which you can sample before it leaves the brewery, you really don’t know how your new cask-conditioned ale recipe is going to turn out until the consumer tries it in the bar.

A modern stainless steel cask has two holes–a small hole in the end, where the tap will eventually go, and a large one into which you pour the beer and any other ingredients. The first step in making a cask ale is to hammer a wooden plug into the small hole. You then add the beer and other ingredients through the large hole, then seal up the cask by hammering another wooden plug into the large hole. There is no way to remove those plugs without allowing oxygen into the cask, thereby spoiling the beer.

So once you have added beer to the cask and sealed it, the only way to find out how your new cask-conditioning recipe turned out is to find out which bar bought your cask, go to the bar, watch your cask being tapped, and order a pint.

Which is what I did last night. There is something very satisfactory about discovering your beer is very drinkable. And there is something radically satisfactory about getting compliments on your beer from other bar patrons.

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One Comment on “Day 306”

  1. Cory Muscato Says:

    Way to go Alan! Wish i could have tryed some.

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