View Full Version : Student Brewer - Fast Cask Part 1

Blog Tracker
07-05-2010, 11:43
Visit the Student Brewer site (http://studentbrewer.blogspot.com/2010/05/fast-cask-part-1.html)

In the blogging world, it appears Fast Cask made little impression.

It was announced by Marstons (through Pete Brown's Blog post here (http://petebrown.blogspot.com/2010/03/exclusive-martsons-redefines-cask-ale.html)) that a revolutionary new form of cask ale was now available - Fast Cask.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_e6HKB6yk9cw/S59zS7835AI/AAAAAAAAAlg/Rk1slyGFuL4/s320/FastCask_AW5.jpg (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_e6HKB6yk9cw/S59zS7835AI/AAAAAAAAAlg/Rk1slyGFuL4/s1600/FastCask_AW5.jpg)

Part of the theory is simple - the beer is brewed as normal. Before racking, all of the yeast and sediment is extracted from the beer. The beer is then racked, and yeast beads are put in each barrel. So in the barrel is beer, and yeast. The yeast beads are heavy, and therefore the beer is constantly clear - no little particles forming hazy beer are available.

I trade with Marstons, and regularly meet with my BDM. He reliably informed me that it still conditions in the barrel, but not in the cellar. That the beer can be racked, vented, tapped and sold instantly. It won't taste green, and under-conditioned. But it's not bright beer either. This bit really confused me.

~ ~ ~

http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd61/edkilverts/Random/kilverts_cellar_training.jpg (http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd61/edkilverts/Random/kilverts_cellar_training.jpg)

Completing cellar training with Vernon Amor at Wye Valley Brewery

From day one, the first firkin I prepared for sale to the one's I racked this morning, it's always been the same:

Accept delivery>leave to equalise with the temp of the cellar>rack>vent>24hrs>tap>24hrs>check beer>sell/hard peg/soft peg until in peak condition>sell within three days.

I really struggle with the idea that a beer isn't bright without it conditioning for at least a day in the cellar. Even my first definition of cask ale, given to me by the nice people at inn-dispensable training at a pub I'd love to remember but can't (about 30 pumps, victorian, strange style of shutters on the bar, vast cellars, next to a dual carriageway just north of Birmingham) included the phrase 'that has it's secondary fermentation in the cask in the cellar'.

~ ~ ~
http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd61/edkilverts/Random/44797.gif (http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd61/edkilverts/Random/44797.gif)

Pedigree, in my opinion, is a lovely beer, when kept well. I've had some terrible examples of it - many when checking it in the cellar at the pub before it's ready - and I've always found it ages well.

It can spend a week in the cellar before I'll sell it - 2 days cooling off, rack and vent it, the following day tap it, and check it twice a day after that. Sometimes 4 or even 5 days to condition fully! It'll then go on sale, being hard-pegged every evening and soft-pegged every morning before service. In the middle of winter I once got my timing horribly wrong and had a firkin which had been on sale for 5 days. Day 6 I checked it, as I do every day, and found there to be nothing wrong with it. At lunch, one of the locals came and found me in the office.

'Is there anything different you've done the Pedigree today Ed?'


'Not particularly' I replied, 'why do you ask'.

'Well, it's a good pint normally' *Crap Crap* 'but today it's absolutely spot on. Best pint of it I've had in ages. If you ever get Bass in, do whatever you've done with this Pedigree to that and I'll drink the whole damn barrel myself!'

So it would appear the secret to a good pint of Pedigree is to vent, tap, forget about it for a week, then sell.

So how the hell did the half pint I poured from a barrel of Pedigree that, in the space of 5 minutes I had racked, vented and tapped, pour clear as day, with good condition and a good nose?

I won't say excellent - except the clarity - but the true test will be tonight. My regular Pedigree drinkers are in, and I'm not going to tell them it's fast cask. I'm not going to tell them I rolled around the cellar like a man possessed before I racked, tapped and drank from it. If the barrel I've got on at the moment is still on, I'll serve them a pint of that followed by a pint of the new one straight from the barrel.

Not a true test I know - one from the barrel and one through a pump. But I'll be intrigued to see what they have to say.

From a cellar man's point of view, I'm in love. If this passes the 'locals test' then I imagine all my Pedigree will be fast cask from now on. Some may call me lazy for it, but it's a practical solution to a serious problem I have.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_E9ZRQEupDkI/S-P6NNMWJ7I/AAAAAAAAAHw/LPXYeJtUXxo/s320/SNC00034.jpg (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_E9ZRQEupDkI/S-P6NNMWJ7I/AAAAAAAAAHw/LPXYeJtUXxo/s1600/SNC00034.jpg)
For anyone who has been in the pub, the cellar is slightly smaller than the part of the bar with the oak flooring. This is the amount of storage space I had at the first hay festival, before the cellar refurb but with 5 ales on.

8 handpumps, already down from 10, are installed on my bar. I have space for 14 stillages - 15 at a push. Butty Bach, even in Kilns takes up 4 of them. Kilvert's Gold takes 3. Pedigree 3. Leaves me with 4 stillages for 5 ever-changing guest ales. Being the sensible man I am, I accepted I didn't have the cellar space for 8 ales on at one time - I don't like spears (I find them wasteful and therefore expensive) and even if I did use them, there would be no space in the cellar for the firks waiting to be racked.

So 6 handpumps for ale, 3 ever-changing guest and 4 stillages to service those pumps. So although this bank holiday, as a perfect example, saw the bar loaded with 6 ales, a scrumpy and a perry on hand-pump ready to go, I could replace one guest ale immediately after it sold out, but the 2nd one to run out left me with an empty pump for a day and a half whilst I waited for the new ale to drop bright.

If I could have Pedigree using just 1 stillage, and as soon as it runs out take the empty off, stick the next one on, vent tap and sell, I'd have 2 more stillages for guest ales, meaning all 6 pumps can be on constantly over summer.

I'll update with a new post tonight - and add the pictures I took this morning to it, as I've left my camera at the pub.


PS, if you wanted a reason to comment, answer this question. If you knew that an ale was Fast Cask, would you choose another 'non-fast cask' ale because it was Fast Cask? I have it on good authority that Mr Protz enjoyed a couple of pints of Fast Cask down at Lords a while back...

More... (http://studentbrewer.blogspot.com/2010/05/fast-cask-part-1.html)

08-05-2010, 07:21
I think the pub you mention from North Birmingham is the Bartons Arms, an Oakham pub.