Day 573

I started the third-last week of the semester by heading back to my summer brewery, where a mere ten days ago some classmates and I brewed up a pale ale for a Sensory class assignment. The beer was giving off a lot of sulphury notes, an indication that the yeast wasn’t quite finished its work yet. However, the class tasting is this Friday, so ready or not, it was time to package the beer. First decision: keg it or cask it?

Kegging involves transferring the beer from fermenter to keg via a filter. Since we hadn’t had time to crash the fermenter (that is, lower the temperature of the fermenter so as to induce the yeast to fall asleep and drift down to the bottom of the fermenter), there would still be a lot of yeast swimming around, which would require a lot of filtration. In addition, I would also have to carbonate the beer. Once in class, we would have to use CO2 or a pump to get it out of the keg.

Casking involves transferring the beer from the fermenter to the cask, adding some sugar, and hammering a shive into the bung hole to seal the entire thing up. Having yeast swimming around is actually a good thing, since they will be able to chow down on the sugar and carbonate the cask all on their own. Once in class, we would simply hammer a tap into the cask, then open the tap.

Hmm. Let’s review.

Kegging: Filter (and filter and filter and filter) and then carbonate. Lots of work. Arrange for CO2 or find a pump to get the beer out of the keg. More work.

Casking: Hammer home a shive to seal it. Easy. Hammer in a tap to unseal it. Dead easy.

Really no contest, was it?

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