What is cask-conditioned ale, really?

George di Piro
Sometimes you have to go beyond your own resources to adequately explain certain aspects of the adult beverage world.

Take brewing. While I have visited many a brewery and quaffed many a brew, I'm not nearly as familiar with the processes and intricacies of the field as I am about spirits and wine, which I have written about and judged in statewide, regional and international competitions for years.

That is why I found a "Beer Nut" blog post by George de Piro on cask-conditioned ales so interesting. De Piro, a former chemist for a pharmaceutical company, has been the brewmaster at C.H. Evans Brewing Company/Albany Pump Station in Albany, NY, since its founding in May 1999. He holds a degree in biology, with a concentration in biochemistry, from Syracuse University and has completed brewing courses at the Siebel Institute. So, he has the credentials to write about such things. For example:

The term "cask ale," a/k/a "cask-conditioned ale," refers to the yeast used to ferment the beer, the method of carbonation, and the package the beer is served from. Ale yeast are most often used in the production of cask beers, hence the "ale" part of the appellation. One could make cask-conditioned lager beers, and indeed these were standard in the days before pressurized maturation vessel, but are now rarely seen.

"Conditioned" is brewer’s parlance for "carbonated." If a beer is said to be cask- or bottle-conditioned, that means it was allowed to develop carbonation naturally in the final package. This is most frequently done by mixing a calculated amount of yeast food (fresh wort or some form of sugar) into young beer and then sealing it in the cask or bottle."

In just two paragraphs I learned a lot. You can, too. Here's the link to the entire posting.

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