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Cask Beer - Your Questions Answered. - Great Newsome Brewery

Cask beer, real ale in a cask or whatever you’d like to call it has been around for many, many years and although not wholly exclusive to the UK it is not found as wide spread in other parts of the world. What sets it apart from many other draught beers such as filtered keg beer is that cask beer contains live yeast which when handled correctly creates a natural carbonation or secondary fermentation within the drink, and hence the smooth mouthfeel of the beer over a much more fizzy feel of a carbonated keg version.

With a great deal of debate in the beer world about the future of cask beer, we would like to make it clear that we are proud to produce good cask beer and aim to keep brewing it for many years to come. So here are a few of the most common questions that customers ask us about cask beer and how to make sure you have the best cask beer.

What size casks do you sell your beer in?

We sell our beer predominantly in 2 different sizes, 4.5 gallon “Pins” and 9 gallon “Firkins”. In new money pins hold approximately 20.5 litres and firkins 41 litres of beer which equates to about 36 and 72 pints respectively. You won’t be able to serve all of that volume of beer because a little will remain at the bottom containing the yeasty sediment once the cask has been dispensed. We also have a small number of 18 gallon “Kilderkins” but rarely use these.

Do you have to let cask beer settle before serving?

The answer is most definitely yes. The time to let the beer left to settle depends from brewery to brewery and can depend on the conditions in which it is being stored. We recommend at least 24 hours settling time, i.e. don’t move it or you will redistribute the sediment, but on the odd occasion it may take a few hours longer. We suggest checking after 24 hours and leave it a little longer if need be. If after 48 hours it still hasn’t cleared then we would suggest giving us a call or dropping us an email and we will see if we can suggest anything that may be able to help.

How long does a cask of beer last for when it has been opened?

Providing the cask is kept cool, below 12 deg C, we recommend that a session beer should be consumed within 5 – 7 days. Dark, higher abv beers would keep better for longer possibly as much as 7 – 10 days. Remember the beer should simply not go off after this number of recommended days, just that the quality deteriorates plus if the cask tap or whatever comes into contact with the beer for dispense is not clean it can also reduce the quality of the product. If you want to extend the shelf life of cask beer then cask aspirators are well worth looking into. Contact us for details.

What is bright beer?

As mentioned previously cask beer needs to settle before serving. Bright has been settled in the brewery and decanted into a fresh cask and hence is bright, requiring no further settling. The upside is the beer can be served immediately the downside is it doesn’t keep very well. We recommend that bright beer is used within 4 days of delivery and served within 48 hours of opening. This suits events when the beer can only be delivered on the day it is required or when on site cooling may be any issue. Currently we charge an additional £5.00 + vat per cask to drop beer bright.

Is there a difference between a cask and a barrel?

Not really in our opinion. A cask is a barrel of sorts and can be of varying sizes. A barrel is also an imperial measure equating to 36 gallons and although pretty rare it can be a cask size.

Does beer taste different from a plastic cask?

In our experience no. All plastic casks are made of food grade plastic and in our trials have no longterm effect on the taste or quality of the beer.

How much does a cask of beer cost?

For private customers, for parties etc. we charge £51.50 for a 4.5g pin and £93.70 for a 9g firkin. Pumps can be loaned free of charge we just ask for a £50.00 refundable deposit.

Prices for trade customers varying depending on the volume of orders, where we would deliver to and the beer itself. A 9g cask of Sleck Dust costs in the region of £67.20 + vat before any discounts have been applied. Please contact us via our trade contact page for details.

How do you tap a cask?

This is something that we are going to cover in a separate video because although it is not as complicated as people fear it does take a little explaining. Alternatively please email us through the contact page and we will be happy to send you a the best practise for tapping a cask.

Further questions?

If you have any other questions about cask beer, how to serve it or if you not sure if it works for you then drop us a line either by email or call us on 01964 612201 and one of our team will be happy to help.