Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the most common questions we are asked....if your query isn't on here please do get in touch and we'll try to answer it for everyone.
Real ale is a live product, containing yeast and fermentable sugar so that the ale continues to ferment and mature in the cask or bottle. Natural carbon dioxide is created during this secondary fermentation, giving the ale bubbles or “condition” as it is known. Cask Conditioned ale is dispensed by gravity, either straight from the cask or by using a hand pump to pull it through a hose to a hand pump on the bar.
Live beer contains sediment (yeast and finings) and requires settling prior to dispense otherwise the beer will pour cloudy. We advise allowing at least 24 hours for live beer to settle.
|Bright Beer or re-racked beer; has had the sediment/yeast removed at the brewery. Bright Beer requires no settling time and can be drunk immediately - handy if you need to transport beer to a party/venue.|
The difference is three fold:
1. The beer they contain
2. The method of serving
3. The actual container
Our casks contain 'live' beer straight from the conditioning tanks, our keg beer goes through an additional filtration process to remove the yeast and sediment giving the beer more clarity and a longer shelf life. The beer in a cask will continue conditioning throughout it's lifespan as the yeast works on any few remaining sugars. Kegged beer is force carbonated during the filling process which provides a controlled and consistent level of carbonation.
The two products are served through different equipment namely the hand pump (or beer engine) and the font (or tap).
CASK beer is served by GRAVITY however in most venues a hand pump is used to assist pulling the beer out of the cask and along the line. To prevent a vacuum forming in the cask there is a secondary hole filled with a porous spile to allow air to replace the missing beer. Casks come in many sizes which have traditional names: A Pin holds 4.5 gallons; a Firkin holds 9 gallons; a Kilderkin, 18 gallons; a Barrel, 36 gallons; a Hogshead, 72 gallons, and so on. The most popular size is a Firkin, holding 9 gallons, or 72 pints.
KEG beer is served through PRESSURE forcing the beer out of the keg and through the font. There is one self closing valve on a keg where gas (normally carbon dioxide) is forced in, which drives out the beer through the same partitioned opening. When people talk of nitro keg, it’s a reference to the type of gas used in the carbonation process. It makes the difference between the creamier nitrogen N2 beers and their lively CO2 counterparts. Gas pumps can preserve a keg up to 120 days with proper refrigeration.
We use sankey connection valves on all of our kegs.
A poly pin consists of a thick plastic collapsible material with a screw on tap, held secure within a double walled cardboard rigid box. The same principle as a wine box.
As the beer is served, the bag collapses down on itself forming a vaccuum so no oxygen is drawn in. This means the beer will last longer that it's cask counterpart in a chilled environment.
Dispense from poly pins 'aka' bag-in-box is convenient as they can be connected to a beer pump or dispensed straight from the tap.
|So long as it is stored at cellar temperature around 11C, and the cask is not tapped an average strength ale will last about 6 weeks; but once it is tapped it should ideally be drunk in 3 – 7 days. In a polypin, at cellar temperature, it should last for a week to 14 days. If Real Ale gets too cold it will develop a “chill haze” as the cold acts on the protein molecules in the ale. As it warms up, the haze will disappear, but if the process is repeated it will take longer…Also, if the ale is too cold the full flavour will be masked. So it is not a good idea to keep real ale in a fridge for longer than about half an hour.|
Setting up and serving real ale is a skill but one that can be easily learnt and constantly improved.
Dependent upon the container there are different ways to extract beer but typically it will be cask that needs racking (settling time), then when ready it will need tapping and spiling (followed by another settling period before serving). There are various methods for extracting beer including the cask tap, a vertical extraction spike and the more modern cask widge. There are advantages to each method, for more info have a look at our cellar skills page. In addition, the beers needs venting or sealing at different times and there are numerous tips and tactics that good publicans and cellar managers have for ensuring every pint is in top condition.
The poly pins (unless bright) do need the settling time however they don't need the tap and spile or the venting procedures, making them an easier option where training is not possible.
Kegs require specialised equipment along with a gas supply so should only be used by trained staff, although the maintenence and serving is not difficult the equipment installation and correct set-up requires industry specialists.
For some step by step proceedures and advice visit: http://cask-marque.co.uk/info-for-pubs/training/
We love showing people around the brewery including talking all things beer and getting your feedback, however we do ask you to pre-arrange your tour with us to ensure we can free up a brewer and make the brewery safe.
Tours are normally in the afternoon Mon-Fri however for groups of 10 or more we will endeavour to provide weekend dates.
We are currently undergoing substantial expansion so there is building work going on, for that reason we would suggest putting off your visit until the Spring when we can make sure it will be a great experience for everyone.
If you would just like to pop in and buy some of our beers we have a shop at the brewery which is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
|Have a look at our map of venues showing pubs, restaurants, shops and cafe's that take our directly. We do have other distributors so you may well see them cropping up elsewhere too. If you would like to see our beers at your local just ask the landlord!|
The main difference is in the yeast used and therefore the brewing times. Lager yeasts like lower fermentation temperatures and typically take three times longer than an ale yeast to ferment. Lager yeasts also work at the bottom of our fermenting tanks as opposed to the ale yeasts, which ferment at the top of the tank. Adding on the additional month of cold maturation, to fully round off the flavours, extends the brewing process for lager to around 8 weeks.
Lager yeasts typically produce less fruity esters (flavours) than ale yeasts hence why lagers tend to have a clean crisp flavour compared to their ale counterparts.