"Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Bottles, Kegs, Casks, Polypins or however you serve your brew.

Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Kyle_T » Sat Feb 20, 2016 13:29

Not being of the CAMRA era, I struggle with the definition of "Real Ale", I can fully appreciate it was to pave the way for a resurgence in good quality beer instead of pressurised keg beer but I don't agree with the statement that using an aspirator or breather is "extraneous carbon dioxide" but in a commercial setting I can see the argument for it being a substitute for poor cellar management.

Fortunately for me, it isn't something I need to worry about on such a small scale. I use both a breather and an aspirator as I cannot physically consume that much beer that quick, however, I have yet to see a detectable difference in the condition of the beer from a cask in a pub. The only benefit is it will extend the condition into a more manageable time frame.

It still loses condition over time but I have never fully documented this from my experiences. One thing I have learn't recently is the difference in condition between wooden and metal casks over the same period using a breather.

Having used a variety of containers for storing and dispensing beer over the last 3 years, nothing gives quite the same effect as from a directly tapped cask, whether under gas or not.

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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Sat Feb 20, 2016 18:43

Kev888 wrote:There are many 'real' reasons why home brewers may be drawn to emulating cask-ale, but unfortunately I struggle with the article's (apparent) suggestion that CAMRA's definitions should be one of them, or should dictate how it is done. ...


There's a fine irony in this! My first outing with this subject got attacked from the CAMRA side! But I read my article thoroughly and I think my mentions of CAMRA are pretty neutral. I'm trying to get out the next "instalment" just now; and a complete article is the desired end result (I'll probably post it in "how-to"). I think you'll be agreeable with that end result?
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Kev888 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:31

Just to be clear, I'm not averse to CAMRA - they were particularly valuable in getting decent beer back into our pubs and still do good work. I'm occasionally a member myself. However, it could be wrong to assume its guidelines automatically continue to be the most appropriate (or necessary) outside the industry that they were intended to tackle.

But this is just my opinion, others will disagree, some don't even accept there is any distinction. As the author only you can decide where you stand on the issue.

Kev

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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:05

I've been neglecting my thread because I've had to deal with some very important business. Brewing beer of course! Right, quick reminder of what I'm trying to achieve here (the reminder is mainly for me!):

My plan is to inject the now generally accepted "craft brewing" practices (kegs, CO2 systems, converted fridges, etc.) with a bit of "British-ness" ("Real Ale" styles, "cask conditioned" styles, etc.). To do this I must stick to the equipment already in general use. At the end-of-the-day my dream is that home-brewing will widely accept a technique of producing a "Real Ale" style (and it may not end up being "my" methods) as readily as it already accepts the building of pretty complex systems such as "kegerators". And because this "dream" is a pretty big ask, I'm trying to get your help drafting out an article on the subject.

So far I've just put some "foundation" ideas past you that the rest of the article will depend on. These include how CO2 dissipates in "cask conditioned" beer and, tentatively, the concept of "perceived as flat", although I've a bit more work on the latter to make it properly understood.

Next up (please give me a day or two) I want to flesh out "perceived as flat" and add some "history", before hitting the more controversial subject (at a later date) of how I suggest all this goes together.

I'll post the resultant article (if it gets that far) in the "How to..." section, along with a "part 2", the practical bit (this is "part 1" dealing with the concepts) and "part 3", the bit on hand-pumps for which I might still try this same "slowly, slowly" approach. Part 3 will also dive into "nuances" and "subtleties" which I've only just discovered in home-brew doing this, only a dedicated few could achieve in the past, and can't be achieved with current "craft beer" style "kegging" methods.

Thanks. :cheers1:
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby supersteve » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:42

If you want my advice, I'd scrap the 3 part approach and just do one. begining middle and end.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Kyle_T » Sun Feb 21, 2016 13:49

PeeBee wrote:My plan is to inject the now generally accepted "craft brewing" practices (kegs, CO2 systems, converted fridges, etc.) with a bit of "British-ness" ("Real Ale" styles, "cask conditioned" styles, etc.). To do this I must stick to the equipment already in general use. At the end-of-the-day my dream is that home-brewing will widely accept a technique of producing a "Real Ale" style (and it may not end up being "my" methods) as readily as it already accepts the building of pretty complex systems such as "kegerators".


You mean like people who already use a cask and Caskwidge or casks and breathers? This has me confused again...

Next Brew: AG#63.

Beer Brewed (2015): 136.4 Gallons
Beer Brewed (2016): 90.0 Gallons
Beer Brewed (2017): 20.0 Gallons

First AG Brewed: 11.4.2013.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Sun Feb 21, 2016 15:08

Kyle_T wrote:...You mean like people who already use a cask and Caskwidge or casks and breathers? This has me confused again...


Okay, I mean "in general home-brewing use". Those "kegs, CO2 systems...".
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Kyle_T » Sun Feb 21, 2016 15:14

They are in general home brewing use and can be used with CO2 systems.

Next Brew: AG#63.

Beer Brewed (2015): 136.4 Gallons
Beer Brewed (2016): 90.0 Gallons
Beer Brewed (2017): 20.0 Gallons

First AG Brewed: 11.4.2013.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Good Ed » Sun Feb 21, 2016 16:15

I think we should let PB post his thesis in it's entirety as supersteve suggested, and not be constantly sniping at his posts. He has obviously spent a lot of time and effort on this path and I think it only fair to let him post accordingly. We will all probably learn something.

And PB it is probably not in your best interests to be posting your article piecemeal, just get it together and put it up.

Here's to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Springer » Sun Feb 21, 2016 17:43

Good Ed wrote:I think we should let PB post his thesis in it's entirety as supersteve suggested, and not be constantly sniping at his posts. He has obviously spent a lot of time and effort on this path and I think it only fair to let him post accordingly. We will all probably learn something.

And PB it is probably not in your best interests to be posting your article piecemeal, just get it together and put it up.


Both good points Ed :)
S
I do hope I can understand and learn from the article/thesis. :D

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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Kyle_T » Sun Feb 21, 2016 17:45

It's hardly sniping Ed but 'craft brewing' already has it's own "British-ness" and a "Real Ale" style can already be achieved with what is already widely accepted and utilised on the "home-brewing" level outside of CO2 systems and kegerators, what I am confused by is the "big dream" that it will be widely accepted when it already is?

By all means, interpret my comments how you choose. I will look forward to reading the final piece to see if it all makes sense in the end.

Next Brew: AG#63.

Beer Brewed (2015): 136.4 Gallons
Beer Brewed (2016): 90.0 Gallons
Beer Brewed (2017): 20.0 Gallons

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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:57

Good Ed wrote:...And PB it is probably not in your best interests to be posting your article piecemeal, just get it together and put it up.

Point taken! Although I've almost got the "second instalment" ready to post today, and I wont have much time for the rest before end of week, so for now I'll continue the "piecemeal" approach. Thanks.

Aleman wrote:One thing you may want to look at is CAMRA's book Cellarmanship by o'Neill, It goes into this in an awful lot of detail

Not very far through that book yet. Although already I see my mentions of "craft beer" have been made looking through rose-tinted glasses. But this is a CAMRA book and I need to careful not to swap my "rose-tinted glasses" for cast-iron blinkers. Odd no-one's picked me up for my comments on "craft beer" yet, though I have attracted recent comments from someone who may of fell in a bucket of "rose-tint".
Cheers!
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Graham_W » Mon Feb 22, 2016 15:32

PeeBee wrote:Not very far through that book yet. Although already I see my mentions of "craft beer" have been made looking through rose-tinted glasses. But this is a CAMRA book and I need to careful not to swap my "rose-tinted glasses" for cast-iron blinkers. Odd no-one's picked me up for my comments on "craft beer" yet, though I have attracted recent comments from someone who may of fell in a bucket of "rose-tint".
Cheers!

Let me oblige.

Last week, an American T.V. booze personality stated that "in his opinion, 60 percent of craft beer sucks and half of the breweries in America are doomed." He went on to say that "They’re rookie-run", which has resonances over here too.

http://www.washingtonbeerblog.com/60-percent-of-craft-beer-sucks/

I would suggest that in Britain the percentage is somewhat higher. The so-called "Craft Beer" misnomer has been one of my biggest disappointments of recent years; the breweries either turn out poor-quailty mediocre stuff or unbalanced, undrinkable hop bombs that all taste the same, irrespective of brewery. Daft names on the pump clips that give no indication of what to expect. All justified by hiding it under the meaningless term "Craft" as if that is an excuse for mediocrity.

A few writers in Britain have expressed similar sentiments in recent years, so the idea is not new.

I doubt if the craft beer movement has anything to teach home brewers, and one hopes that the "craft beer" honeymoon will soon be over, so that the Russian Roulette aspect of selecting a beer in a strange pub can be eliminated and that beer can return to drinkability.

Several years ago I spent a good deal of time at The White Horse in Parsons Green, trying to dissuade the founder of the organisation that puts its name to this forum not to use the meaningless term "craft" in the title of his potential new venture, long before it became a mainstream term. I even crossed his palm with a significant amount of gold by way of a bribe, but to no avail. As it turned out, the organisation turned out to be more the founder's appreciation society than anything else, so it did not turn out as I had hoped anyway.

I have a feeling that this Dog ('s Breakfast) called "craft beer" will soon bite the hands that feed it, and the sensible brewers will distance themselves as far away from the term as they can get.

The situation over here is worse than that in America. We have too many breweries vying for the attention of too few pub companies; two major pub cos, three or four intermediates and about a dozen minor ones. Some of the minors lease their pubs from the majors and are tied to their approved beer list. Few of the micros have any guaranteed outlets and few are making any money. Outrageous beers with even more outrageous names, one-off seasonally themed beers, and many micros copying the ideas of others, in the attempt to capture the attention of the pub cos is an undesirable consequence of this. Poor quality and fatalities are inevitable under this situation.

G.W.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby supersteve » Mon Feb 22, 2016 15:42

About 60% of real ale sucks... and my point there is that just because it's served as Real Ale doesn't mean it's going to beat the taste of a well brewed craft beer.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Mon Feb 22, 2016 17:15

Graham_W wrote:
PeeBee wrote:...Odd no-one's picked me up for my comments on "craft beer" yet...

Let me oblige...


supersteve wrote:About 60% of real ale sucks...


Hello Graham, hello Steve.

Now, now! I'm trying very hard with this second thread to avoid having it descend into a bun fight like my first thread. I'm pleased that I could pickup early on my misconceptions about "craft brewing" which should reflect in my second "instalment" that I'm proof reading at present. I'll post it shortly, probably as an edit of the second post in this thread.

Its very important to me that I do not alienate the people I'm going to be aiming the final article at. So I must take a "neutral" stance. But in doing so I'm bound to cause some disagreement with folk around the "edges". I just hope I don't make the complete mess of it like I did on the first outing! :pray:

And of course, to this end I welcome input from either of you. But it's probably best to wait for my edit to be posted first.

Cheers
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Mon Feb 22, 2016 19:40

Original post updated!
It's now 4 pages long (flippin' 'eck).
I'll thank you to keep your comments coming, and perhaps I'll finally get something half descent posted in the "how to..." section soon.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby supersteve » Mon Feb 22, 2016 20:36

Doesn't read anything like a 'How to' so far..
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Tue Feb 23, 2016 00:15

supersteve wrote:Doesn't read anything like a 'How to' so far..

True! I should have watched what I was saying. It's the foundations for a "how to"; hence why I've been asking for help - if I can't be 100% confident why I'm suggesting a particular way of doing something, I can't be suggesting that particular way (just because "it works for me"; on a guide this size that is really not good enough. Guess I've learnt that the hard way).
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:30

supersteve wrote:Doesn't read anything like a 'How to' so far..

Having slept on it you are right, I don't think this material is suitable for a "how to". I'll keep it separate from any "how to", probably in this section, and just link the information for anyone interested. That does mean going back to the "three part" approach, but I hadn't got around to merging them together yet anyway.
Thanks.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby Aleman » Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:07

One other point that I feel needs to be said. 'Craft Beer' does not have to contain 3.5 Vols of CO2, it can be set up to contain considerably less, Indeed I often set my regulators on my beers to give me 1.3Vols at around 10-12C. That way I can use kegs and dispense 'Real Ale' alike beer . . .it doesn't have to be fizzy pap! . . .Yeah it's not true real ale, but if you vent the keg to the atmosphere, leave it open to the air (via a HEPA filter) for a 'period of time' then seal it up at 1.3Vols it does come close.

:oops: Sorry I've added another whole can of worms to your bucket :D

please note:The use of punctuation, bold, underlining, italics, and different sized type, follows the convention used in writing, for many years, to place emphasis on the point being made, and to highlight the importance of that point in the opinion of the author. It is not the intention of the author to shout, if that was the case the author would adopt the, much more recent, convention of using all capital letters.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby supersteve » Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:22

Yeah.. and the whole 'Keg drinkers' think Real Ale is flat.. it's just bordering on stereotyping. I'd change everything to, people who like over carbonated beverages tend to think Real ale is flat, as I drink keg beer aswell as Real Ale and I know when something is too fizzy for the style.

I'd also hold off on all of your exclamation marks.
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Tue Feb 23, 2016 17:21

Aleman wrote:One other point that I feel needs to be said. 'Craft Beer' does not have to contain 3.5 Vols of CO2, it can be set up to contain considerably less, Indeed I often set my regulators on my beers to give me 1.3Vols at around 10-12C. That way I can use kegs and dispense 'Real Ale' alike beer . . .it doesn't have to be fizzy pap! . . .Yeah it's not true real ale, but if you vent the keg to the atmosphere, leave it open to the air (via a HEPA filter) for a 'period of time' then seal it up at 1.3Vols it does come close...

I was using the "BJCP" guidelines to get "3.5 volumes" (they list that high for some Belgium styles), but I accept their view is not really connected with "craft beer". With hindsight I could consider myself as being kind to "craft beer"; I've not long figured that we have an inexplicably favourable view of "craft beer" whereas in reality their definitions can easily harbour the "fizzy pap" you mention.

The "BJCP" guidelines are what started me on all this. Trying to get 1.3 "volumes", like you, using the clumsy regulators in common use was hard enough, but the results were very revealing. Then BJCP seemed to notice their "mistake" and the 2015 style update pushed British bitter from 1.3 volumes to a fizzing 1.5 volumes!

Your use of air filters sounds very interesting. But I better give exploring that avenue a miss just now or I'll never finish this article. Use of septic filters gets a fleeting mention in my bit on hand-pumps, along with "intermediary" vessels, so I may well yet come back to it.

Thanks. :thumb:
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Tue Feb 23, 2016 17:31

supersteve wrote:Yeah.. and the whole 'Keg drinkers' think Real Ale is flat.. it's just bordering on stereotyping. I'd change everything to, people who like over carbonated beverages tend to think Real ale is flat, as I drink keg beer aswell as Real Ale and I know when something is too fizzy for the style.

I'd also hold off on all of your exclamation marks.

Oops. I can take some comfort from "just bordering", but I'll get something done about that. Thanks.
And I thought I was being restrained about my use of exclamation marks, obviously I thought wrong. (<- note no exclamation mark). I'll do something about that too.
Cheers!
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Re: "Cask Conditioned" Home Brew - Take 2

Postby PeeBee » Fri Feb 26, 2016 20:13

Original post updated. This is the final instalment. It's now 6 pages long. (It's been converted to native format, but the MS Word document has been attached for download).
This final section contains the bits that trashed my previous thread. Hopefully it makes a less controversial ending this time around.
I'll post any final edit in this section along with an accompanying "how to" in the "how to" section.

Not trying to sink my own thread, but...
If my logic has been sound, why does commerce use "breathers" (zero PSI) and not something like a "breather" that delivers 1-2PSI? The changes to the design would be trivial. What's stopping them? I can't imagine it's fear of CAMRA! The answer is bound to affect this thread. Anyone any ideas?
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Re: Conclusions

Postby PeeBee » Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:36

I can regard this article as finished, uncontroversial and hopefully helpful. I've just about done a follow up (hand-pumps) to post shortly and then I can complete the epic with a practical "how-to".

Thanks to all those that have contributed to this discussion. A big help was this book:

Aleman wrote:One thing you may want to look at is CAMRA's book Cellarmanship by o'Neill, It goes into this in an awful lot of detail


The book doesn't describe precisely what I'm doing (it's a CAMRA book about commercial environments and I'm a home brewer messing with CO2 cylinders - what can I expect!), but it does described similar actions. Sifting out the parallels let me confirm I wasn't in cloud cuckoo land (it was uncomforting thinking that what I was doing was unique). What I'm describing is "blanket pressure" but avoiding the problems of ordinary gas regulators using a LPG regulator instead of a "breather". Commercially there is no reason to use anything other than a "breather", because the benefit of an LPG regulator only shows up after a week or so, long after there is any good commercial reason to still have a tapped cask around. From a home brew point of view there is also the benefit of LPG regulators keeping Cornie keg lids sealed.

A concern about "blanket pressure" that CAMRA followers may point out is that beer kept this way ages far more than the brewery intended. I have experienced this in my home-brew, but limited to "bitters": After about 10-14 days "bitters" evolve into something else where the "fresh" flavours, especially hops, round off. Hardly a problem; some would say the beer is "maturing". The likes of home brewed "Mild" continues to improve as it ages, but I do use strongly flavoured malts for "Mild", like smoked and high colour crystal. Strong ales are aged anyway. Over aging is a concern in a pub maybe, but not at home.

I'll continue developments, particularly venting. There is a discussion hereabouts on venting lively casks. I avoid this by using tiny amounts of priming sugar, initially pressure the cask to 4-5PSI and let the LPG regulator do the rest. But one day I'm going to need a venting process for real; regulators don't like being filled with lively beer.
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