Friday, 3 August 2012
What Is FastCask?
After my aside during the review of Ye Olde Manor – and no prizes for guessing that I may take a stroll down Nantwich Road to do a further analysis in the not too distant future – the FastCask concept needs some explanation.
Cask beer is naturally conditioned: it leaves the brewery not yet settled out, and the cask needs to be left in the cellar, or stillaged, to allow the yeast sediment to drop to the bottom, with the beer clearing, or dropping bright. And if your cellar is small and crowded, you can’t risk rocking or even jolting the cask, because that will unsettle the sediment and you have to let it settle over again.
This is one reason that some licensees don’t like cask beer, and a most convenient excuse for relying totally on NitroKeg MegaBrand SuperBland over-promoted and character free crap. And here the folks at Marston’s enter, with FastCask.
Here’s how it works: the beer is filtered to remove the yeast before the cask is filled, but to replicate the conditioning process, a pellet (Marston’s prefer to call it a “bead”) of gel, which contains yeast, is substituted. The pellets drop to the bottom of the cask more or less straight away and the beer can be served without waiting at least 24 hours – as is usual – or after the cask is disturbed.
Marston’s EPA was developed recently and is the most visible FastCask product, but Pedigree, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Jennings Cumberland Ale, and Brakspear Bitter are also available in this form. The first four can be found in Crewe pubs: there are four or five offering Pedigree.
It means there are no excuses for a pub with its own cellar – for which, read almost all of them – not to offer cask beer. As the Marston’s promo says, cask is the only product you can’t get at home. Everything else you can get off the shelf at Asda.
And it’s another reason why, when I walk into a pub and find no cask option available, I take a dim view. Is the hint getting through yet?