but were afraid to ask..........or have forgotten!!!!
The brewery oom-pa-loompas have requested that an article be written (they are unable to write themselves as their small, fat hands can only mash the keyboard, causing frustration and tears) in an attempt to enlighten (educate) our clientele (punters) on the topic of cask styles and specifically on tapping them. Much hilarity has been encountered recently with some returned casks providing a great deal of entertainment to the brewers and a great deal of swearing on the part of Roy the cask washing – loompa as he struggles to extricate the tap from the wrong orifice!!!
So hold onto your proverbial hats as we immerse ourselves into the world of casks and beer.
First off we’ll talk briefly about the type of beer you can purchase from the brewery, that is ‘Bright Beer’ or ‘Real Beer’.
Bright Beer – to be consumed within 2 – 3 days of purchase – serve at 12 Degrees Celsius
This type of beer contains no sediment and is therefore ideally suited for customers who are less confident when it comes to wielding a mallet, as the product is clear, or bright as its known in the brewery, it does not require settling and will not go cloudy with an unfortunate (incompetent!!!) tapping technique.
The reason it is bright is that the beer has been fined in the brewery and then settled over 4 days and the resulting clear liquid run into a clean container. The key for bright beer is that the correct amount and type of finings are added to the cask and that it is given enough time to settle. The latter time factor is the reason that you will (or may have) encountered a mixture of reactions from brewers, ranging from horror and shock through to bewilderment when you ask for bright beer the day before your function. Despite this we will and do always endeavour to accommodate you as best we can because we are all deep down very lovely indeed.
At Christmas, as some of you may have already noticed, we gently co-erce our customers towards real beer and polypins, as space for settling lots of casks is in very short supply and talking of real beer….
Real Beer – to be consumed within 4 – 5 days of purchase – serve at 12 o’C
Real beer contains yeast and when it is ordered we will add finings to it which will allow the yeast to settle over time into the bottom of the cask resulting in clear beer. The presence of the yeast gives a very slight flavour improvement over bright beer and more significantly, increases the shelf life of the product by 2 -3 days. The pay-off for this is that once the yeast has settled out, care should be taken not to move the cask as the yeast will resuspend itself and you will have to wait a day or so for it to resettle.
Temperature is another issue. If yeast gets too warm it will start working vigorously and the beer in your cask will struggle to clear properly, resulting in a haze and lots of condition (fizziness). Therefore we suggest that unless you have cooling equipment or are very experienced, real beer is best ordered from Autumn to early Spring when the ambient temperature will be significantly lower.
When settling real beer, place the cask in its serving position out of the sun and somewhere cool and leave for 24 hours. After this period you can then move onto the tapping and venting which is talked about below. You must then leave your beer for a further 24 hours to settle out further. After this period (48 hours in total) you can check your beer at the cask, the first pint or so will be cloudy or hazy and after this you should be getting nice clear beer coming out of your cask.
There are three types of casks that you should encounter when tapping and venting and they are all metal. (you may encounter a fourth very large type at really wild parties and I have included a picture of it here for reference. If you see one of these at the aforementioned soire get a cab home)
1. Tall metal pins – 4.5 gallons - 36 pints
2. Squat metal pins – 4.5 gallons - 36 pints
3. 9 gallon cask – 9 gallons - 72 pints
4. 18 gallon cask – 18 gallons - 144 pints
All of these are tapped and vented the same way, they are just different designs.
The casks in these photos are all in their serving positions so take note!!!
You may also encounter a polypin at some point in your drinking career.
Here is a picture of one -
N.B. You don’t have to tap and vent these as they come with all the ‘gubbings’ attached. Perfect for the novice drinker at home who wants something simple before perhaps moving on to the more adventurous world of taps.
Tapping and venting – it’s really, really easy honest
1. This process is exactly the same for bright and real beer. The only slight difference being that the cask of real beer MUST have been placed in its serving position and left to stand for 24 HOURS before tapping and have been left for a further 24 HOURS AFTER tapping before serving.
2. Place your cask in its serving position as seen in the photos above. (remember your real beer will have been like this for 24 hours)
3. Puncture the shive (big bung at the top of the cask) with you peg (included with all the stuff you got from us)
4. Remove peg
5. Check that your tap is shut like the one in this photo -
6. Drive the tap into the keystone (little bung at the side of the cask) with confidence and the air of a gentleman around town. It will go in to about 2/3 the length of the tap. (remember that if you have real beer you are now leaving your cask for another 24 hours)
7. Connect your handpull to the tap, open and serve.
8. If you aren’t using a handpull then serve directly from the tap by twisting it open. The beer will come out of the side of the tap and not the bottom.
So caution is required not to get very wet slippers!
9. If you’re not serving beer for any length of time then pop you peg back into the cask and push it in hand tight. Remember to remove it when serving again otherwise you will ‘pull’ a vacuum and no beer will come out (ask a physicist for a thorough explanation).
10. When you have finished with your cask seal it up with the cork and peg provided. It will keep any remnants of beer off your boot floor / back seat / footwell carpet and keep the inside of the cask moist enabling easier cleaning, which in turn means Roy - loompa is happier, which in turn means that the brewers get grumbled at a lot less.
11. If you prefer a more racy approach to beer dispense, you can drive your tap into the cask in the vertical position like this!
The jaunty angle enables a greater accuracy of pour, aids head creation (if that’s your thing) and is guaranteed to impress your friends.
This is known as the ‘Badcock Method’, and Karl will buy a pint for the first person (brewery and bar workers excepted) who can tell him why this is named so.
If all this is too much you then you can always ring us at the brewery on 01827 713 080 where we will happily talk you through the whole thing.