Cask-conditioned ale is unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated beer that continues to ferment and age after being packaged. Before modern draught systems and the use of CO2, Cask-Conditioned ale was the only way to serve beer. Over the years it's been called "Real Ale", "Cask Ale" or "Cask-Conditioned" but it's essentially remained the same - a tasty and unique way to experience the flavour profile of a beer.
Wellington Brewery was one of the first modern brewers in North America to produce traditional cask-conditioned ales which have become increasingly popular in the last decade. Back in 1985, our brewery was opened with the intention of only producing cask or “real ale”. We eventually started packaging our beer in kegs, cans, and bottles but we’ve always maintained a commitment to serving and promoting cask-conditioned ales by serving some of our original recipes including Arkell Best Bitter and County Dark Ale on cask.
This traditional style of serving is different from most beer in that cask-conditioned ale continues to ferment after it’s packaged. When you tap a cask, a vent at the top will allow extra carbonation to escape, which is why cask-conditioned beer is generally less carbonated than other serving styles. Before serving, “finings” are added to a cask to help the yeast sink to the bottom of the cask where it will remain undisturbed while serving. Cask-conditioned ale will generally be a bit cloudy with a mild carbonation allowing the subtle flavours and nuances of a beer to stand out.
Generally speaking beer is best served fresh with the exception of some sours and higher alcohol stouts and barley-wines. In particular cask-conditioned ales have a much shorter lifespan than most beer since once a cask is tapped it is exposed to air which will spoil the beer. The rule of thumb with cask beer is the fresher the better!
We hope you can join us at Welly Cask Fest and experience the wonder of cask-conditioned beer. Cheers!