An Introduction to Cask Conditioning Homebrew

Who says you can’t have your own “Firkin Friday” at your homebrewery? We took a look at what makes beer “real ale,” how to cask condition and serve your real ale and a heated debate that surrounds the real ale campaign.

What is Real Ale?

By definition, “real ale” is a name for draught (or bottled) beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide. To the homebrewer, this may sound like any bottle conditioned beer is technically real ale, but the British-based group Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) uses the term to specifically refer to traditional British beer styles (bitters, stouts, pale ales, etc.) that were served at cellar temperatures (52-57° F) and a specific low level of carbonation (<1 vol. of CO2).

The push for authentic real ale is much less of a matter in the United States compared to Great Britain, but the interest in serving cask-conditioned beer is becoming more and more prevalent at state-side watering holes and among homebrewers.

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