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Cask beer can be served one of two ways: directly from the cask or by use of a beer engine also known as a hand pump.

What is Cask Beer?

Cask-conditioned beer is often referred to a real ale, as it is brewed from only traditional ingredients, allowed to mature naturally, and packaged in a wooden cask. Because cask beer closely follows the original beer brewing practices, it has been called draft beer at its best.

Why is a Cask Ale so special?

  • Cask Ale is Fresh and Alive: Packaged fresh in small wooden barrels, the live yeast continues conditioning the brew until tapped.
  • Cask Ale is Local: Because of the limited shelf life, most cask beer travels fewer miles to reach your favorite pub.
  • Cask Ale is Unique: Each batch features subtle nuances and flavors never found in any other brew.
  • Cask Ale is Flavorful: You will be astounded at the range and depth of flavors plus the array of aromas found in this ale.
  • Cask Ale is Good for You: The brew contains only natural ingredients, no chemicals, additives, or preservatives. Ever. The yeast also provides vitamin B and probiotic qualities.
  • Cask Ale is Great with Food: The variety of flavors and aromas pair nicely with a variety of food. Because the beer is not overly gassy, it will not make you feel overfull, allowing you to savor both the ale and the food.

What is the difference between cask selections and typical American keg beer?

Traditional Nuevo-American beer is typically sterile filtered and pasteurized as part of the brewing process. This kills the yeast and prevents any further conditioning. The beer is then racked into sealed, gas pressurized metal kegs. Lastly, it is flash-chilled and served very cold. Unfortunately, many manufacturers will also use additives such as rice or maize mixed in with the malt to cut costs. The result is a light, crisp beer, lacking in true flavor.

Cask-conditioned beer is a living product, brewed from traditional ingredients and allowed to mature naturally. It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, contains live natural yeast, and which continues to condition the beer in the cask. This is called a secondary fermentation. Overall resulting in a gentle, natural CO2 carbonation, allowing the malt and hop flavors to develop. The final product is a richer, smoother beer with real character.

Where can you find Cask Beer?

The Federal House Bar and Grille always offers a rotating cask selection. It is exciting for our pub, which was founded in 1830, to introduce Annapolis to this historical style brew. What’s more, is our Chesapeake region has quite a few reputable microbrews. This proximity makes it easier for us to provide a fresh product, which is imperative when pouring a quality pint.

While you may be intimidated by this true craft brew, the method is simple, and the results delicious. The next time you belly up to the bar and put a foot up on the rail, we encourage you to try it. Not many pubs in the area offer it, so it is a rare to get the opportunity to sample this historical process. You will be pleasantly surprised. And, what could be better than walking into a notable American pub founded in 1830, and savoring an Ale like our country’s Founding Fathers.