To us, there’s nothing more classic in a pub than cask beer. But when we looked into it, there were very few places in Boston to get a properly stored and pulled pint. So we reached out to some local experts and put together a robust cask program we could be proud of. We now have 3 continually rotating cask lines from local New England breweries that ensure the freshest and best cared for casks in Somerville. Come in and check out what’s on cask tonight!
What is Cask Ale?
Cask ale (and sometimes lager) is also often referred to as cask conditioned ale or even real ale. These are unfiltered beers that are brewed, transferred to a cask and allowed to go under a secondary round of fermentation. This means that the yeast in the beer is still alive and creating carbonation and a small amount of alcohol. So it’s literally a natural, living product! The beer is also stored and served at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature allows the yeast to continue working and brings out all the flavors, aromas and nuances that cask beer fans enjoy. Another difference between cask beer and keg beer is that cask beer is served through what is called a beer engine. This is different from a typical draft system in that the beer isn’t forced out of the vessel with CO2 but instead is pumped out with air. It’s a more gentile process that preserves the softer carbonation without kicking up too much yeast from the cask, but has a main drawback in that the beer can spoil in a matter of days.
Cask beer can be pretty much any style of beer. Some lend themselves better to the process than other, but there has been a lot of fun experimentation going on in the cask beer arena. But it wasn’t always the case. Cask beer almost became an extinct process by the 1970s, being quickly replaced by breweries and pubs with more typical draft beer systems. One of the main reasons is because draft beer is usually pasteurized. This not only gives it a longer shelf life, but also allows it to travel longer distances. With beer seeing greater distribution by the big breweries, pasteurized, kegged beer was the much better option. It was thanks to the hard work by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) in England that cask beer was saved from extinction. We now see many of your better beer bars with a robust cask program and being supported by local breweries providing casks of their beer. Since the beer doesn’t go through the pasteurization or filtration process, breweries are able to add other ingredients to their cask beers. This is opening an opportunity to add ingredients like fruit, coffee, vanilla beans and of course, more hops!
If you are new to cask beer, try one of the three cask beers we have on the engine next time you’re in Olde Magoun’s Saloon. We’re happy to provide samples as well. You just might find yourself becoming a new cask beer fan! For you cask beer aficionados, we’re sure you’ll enjoy a freshly pulled pint, served at the correct temperature.
Our cask offerings rotate regularly, so come back in often!