Unlike beers stored in a regular keg, cask-conditioned brew goes in unfiltered and undergoes a secondary fermentation in the container (aka the cask). The yeasts remain alive, affecting the beer’s flavors and character. A good beer on cask is a great beer, but attention newbies: Cask brews are served at a warmer temperature than regular draughts.
Here’s where to try them.
Every spring the Washington Beer Commission (washingtonbeer.com) organizes a cask festival at which several dozen in-state breweries pour from over 70 different casks. It’s well worth the $35 cost of admission.
Unfiltered Pub Crawl
There are too many pubs tapping casks to list them all, but here is a sampling: West Seattle pub the Cask
(thecaskseattle.com) plays host to a revolving set of fresh regional brewskies, and the Hopvine (3pubs.com/hopvine.html) staff taps a cask every Monday, an event that coincides nicely with the Capitol Hill pub’s 5 to 7pm happy hour. Elliott Bay’s West Seattle brewpub pops a vintage cask one Wednesday a month, the Burien pub does the same on Thursday (elliottbaybrewing.com).
The Redmond Two-Step
Equipped with a few tables and a tiny bar, Redmond beer and wine store Malt and Vine (maltandvine.com) doubles as a sipping spot for serious geeks, who wander in on Wednesdays to try the cask of the week. Nearby, visit stellar brewery Black Raven (blackravenbrewing.com); the staff taps a firkin, an 11-gallon cask, every Wednesday at 4pm.
On Thursday, May 19, the first day of Seattle Beer Week 2011 (seattlebeerweek.com), West Seattle’s Beveridge Place Pub (beveridgeplacepub.com) hosts its annual Cask-o-Rama, a rowdy celebration of local beer and your chance to try cask brews exclusively produced in Seattle.