Cask Conditioning and Carbonation

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by nybeer, Jan 16, 2020 at 4:44 PM.

  1. nybeer

    nybeer New Member

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    Just looking for advice on cask conditioning, and how to carbonate, anyone have any advice would really appreciate. Going to be using a pin cask, brewing a traditional English bitter.
     
  2. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I'm kind of curious myself, I've never tried it but I'm intrigued by the idea.
     
  3. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Isn't there little to no carbonation in Cask ale? I know they use something called a "Beer Engine" to dispense the beer that looks to put a healthy head on the finished beer.

    I'm interested as well to learn the dark arts of Cask ale
     
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  4. nybeer

    nybeer New Member

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    There is carbonation, not like keg but thats part of the beauty in my mind. I think it naturaly carbonates as it ferments in the cask but I read different idea's on wether you need to add sugars or even wort that you've saved to get the right carbonation. Theres defiantly an art to it! I do have a "Beer engine" and want to put it to good use hopefuly.
     
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  5. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Well well I've lernt something already from you on the cask ale. Gathering it's an English Extra Special Bitter style beers you'll be brewing for this. I remember awhile back reading about sorta deflatable casks they deflate as you use the beer up I think it's to stop oxidizing beer as you drink.
     
  6. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    There's no carbonation in cask beer. There will be some CO2 as it goes through secondary fermentation in the cask but it isn't for carbonation, just a by product that is vented off.

    When we tap and vent a cask it's open to atmosphere so any gas in th vessel is gone. As has been said, any head is formed at dispense via the pump (very properly called a beer engine - full marks for that!)
     
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  7. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    There's very little difference between cask and keg beers. Mine are exactly the same, the keg ones just get put under gas.

    I use pins too, an ideal size for many of us. They get filled to the brim to exclude any oxygen and sealed. Sometimes they dry hopped but rarely. Sometimes they're fined for clarity, that's less rare. There's never anything else, no priming sugar etc.

    Once breached they have a shelf life of three days or so, although that can be extended by putting CO2 on top of the beer through the vent.

    Once you put CO2 on top of cask beer it puts you at odds with CAMRA and the accepted definition of real ale. I can't abide CAMRA but many take them very seriously
     
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  8. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Ah trust an Englishman to give us the nod on Cask Ale eh?:)
    At the hombrew level gee you'd want to tap the cask Friday arvo to give you enough time to Finnish it by Sunday arvo:confused: lol:D:D!
     
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  9. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    Tap Thursday; it needs 24 hours to breathe. Then you have 3 days. It has to be said that if it's kept cold it's okay for a week or so but the beer is at its best for those 3 days.

    My first cellar job was at a Boddington's freehouse and we got through 20 Hogsheads a week; those are 54 gallons and don't exist any more. There is an art to cellaring and serving cask properly as has been said, and it's sadly lacking in many of our pubs these days.
     
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  10. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    Oh, and happy to help! Being English had to come in handy one day...
     
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  11. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I follow/stalk/watch an English fellas Vlog on YouTube his brewery is Harrison's Brewery. He's a craft brewer I watched him ever since he was brewing at home just like us. Have you heard of him by any chance? I'm sure his brewery is in Nottinghamshire he won best brewery of Nottinghamshire county last year I'm sure...:rolleyes:
     
  12. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    I haven't, no. Not been to Nottingham in years. I will look him up though. I used to be very aware of new brewers, I had a magazine for a little while that concentrated on new beers and brewers but keeping up with them was nigh on impossible. They all have something to teach me though so I'm always interested.
     
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  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Not a brewing video but pub maintenance style video this is the man in Question

    If ever I head over there and I will at some stage my old man's from Wales I'll be sure to drop in there and drink a pint or three of his "Vacant Gesture":)!
     
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  14. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    Give me a shout when you make it.

    Should also say at this stage that it may well be that some US brewers are experimenting with cask and carbonation might be one of those experiments, although I can't see how, but the traditional/English style is as I've said. Everything else is something else.
     
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  15. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Well I'm from Aus so Can't speak for the Yanks but let's just say I would never heard of "Cask Ales" as a thing if not for hombrewing.
    A style I'm gathering one Must taste straight from the Source much like Lambics and trappist beers from Belgium to great pilsner and Lagers from Germany or NEIPAs from America;)...
     
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  16. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Is anything added to create a secondary fermentation, or is it more just finishing off the primary in the cask? So it's transferred a few points shy of terminal gravity? Or is it more the other ideas of conditioning, things like cleaning up some of the fermentation by products.
     
  17. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I'd think they cask before final gravity is reached? Would be similar to adding gyle to the bottle for conditioning but I'm gathering would only be point or two before completion?
     
  18. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a “secondary” type fermentation in the cask...

    From Homebrewers Association:
    As fermentation nears completion, the wort is transferred to the vessel in which it will be served from to undergo secondary fermentation and ultimately the “cask conditioning” process. It is crucial to carry over enough viable yeast from primary into the serving vessel to ensure secondary Fermentation will complete.
    Depending on the style and when the beer is racked, some brewers will add a bit of sugar in the secondary to give the yeast something to ferment and condition the beer. Fining agents, like isinglass, are also common to help further promote beer clarity, which is a hallmark of real ale. Dry hops and other ingredients, like fruit, are sometimes added to the cask, too.“
     
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  19. nybeer

    nybeer New Member

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    Thanks so much for all the info really appreciate it. I'm a actually a brit living in NY hence the quest to brew traditional Ale.
    I had read about the CO2 cask breather which seems like a great idea to extend the life of the beer especially in my situation. Is the main thing timing on when to transfer to cask so you carry over enough viable yeast? Read a couple of things like the last post but not a lot of information out there.
     
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  20. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Active Member

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    It's more just cleaning up. The big brewers have to be precise with their numbers so guessing at the FG won't do, HMRC takes their duty returns very seriously although I understand that there is an amount of tolerance in there. I have all the paperwork on duty returns so am curious enough to check that and come back. There's a tolerance for any sediment as well, the 'undrinkable beer agreement', so it's fully accepted that an amount of yeast and hop debris will settle out as conditioning completes.

    Have to say I've never heard of sugar going into casks but there's no reason I should know everything and lots of brewers keep their cards to their chest so it wouldn't be a huge surprise either.
     
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