Bob Brewer answers your questions about the world of beer and brewing.
Alex: What would happen if Liberty Ale were put in a cask?
Bob: Alex, Liberty Ale was not intended to be a “cask” ale. We certainly could produce a similar product but it would not be the same on several levels. First, Liberty Ale is intended to be an effervescent beer with natural carbonation created in the fermenter and in the cellar tank. “Cask-conditioned” ales are, by their nature, low in CO2. Almost completely flat, actually. Second, Liberty Ale is dry-hopped with whole-flower hops. To attempt this in a cask situation would be highly impractical.
Most cask-conditioned ales offered by American craft breweries could be more accurately described as “cask-dispensed”. This is a process where a cask is filled with a finished (or mostly finished) ale and allowed to “condition” before being served, often by a hand pump or “beer engine”. This hand pump compensates for the flat, low-CO2 nature of cask ale by forcing it through a screen – or “sparkler” – in the faucet to aerate it or froth it up. This process actually removes what little carbonation is left in the beer and adds in air. What you end up with is a glass of flat beer with a head on it. In these cases, the cask can be filled with an ale that has been dry-hopped beforehand.
So, Alex, the short answer is that if we put Liberty Ale into a cask under these conditions, what we would get is a warm, flat, aerated, version of Liberty Ale that is much different than our classic product.
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