Over the years, keg beers have gotten a lot better.
If a cask beer is in poor condition, it’s actually
possible for a fresh keg beer to be much better
tasting. Even though this may sound absurd, it’s
very common for someone who’s unfamilar with cask
ale to not be able to taste the difference between
keg and cask beer.
The warm temperature that cask beer is famous for
doesn’t apply in the summer months all that often
these days, as temperature control units in pubs
have beer run through coolers. The fact is, some
pubs will run cask ale lines through lager chillers
in order to get the beer below the maximum temperature
required, so cask ale may very well end up just as
cold as a keg lager.
This isn’t really a good thing, as ale requires a
cool rather than very cold temperature to bring out
all of its flavors. In a well run pub however, the
cask ale will be served at the right temperature –
cool but not too cold.
The smell of cask ale is much fresher and more
wholesome than keg beer. Keep in mind, the aroma of
cask ale doesn’t have the stored up impact of
bottled type beers, as this beer has already been
exposed to the air for a couple of days – meaning
there is no impact when you transfer it to your
Normally, the aroma wil be released into the air when
it has been warmed up, which will probably happen
when you get near the bottom of the glass.
The flavor of cask ale is very similiar to the aroma
in it, which is very fresh and delicate. Unlike
other bottled beers, the flavor of cask ale is
even more noticeable than the aroma. At first,
the aroma is very slight, although the flavor
more than makes up for it.
The intensity of the flavor will depend on the style
of beer. The CO2 bubbles themselves will have
very little flavor, therefore a mass of bursting
bubbles against your tongue will prevent the actual
beer from making contact.
With cask ale, there is little to no carbonation,
so more of the flavor will connect with your taste
buds. You should be able to note the fruity taste
up front, with balance in the middle and bitterness
in the end. The flavor of a cask ale is much more
noticed than keg or even bottled beer.
Bottle conditioned beers will also have this type
of flavor profile, although they’ll need to be
prepared and conditioned well in advance, meaning
that the bottle will need to be opened and allowed
to settle for a while. Cask ales offer the
conditioning being done fro you, so you won’t need
to do it.
The most important aspect of cask ale is how it
feels in your mouth. It shouldn’t be fizzy. If it
is, it’s either a keg beer or a cask ale that’s
been put on too soon. There will be a natural feel
in the beer, a life that makes you want to drink it.