Appetite: Whet – Brew Your Cask Off 2012

This weekend I’ll be heading back to my home state for the third beer-related event in less than a month. This time, it’s back to the SweetWater Brewery for my second Brew Your Cask Off cask ale festival.

Cask ale or “real ale” is, in essence, beer au naturel. When beer is bottled, additional carbon dioxide is usually injected into the bottle before it’s capped and sent off for consumption. That’s why beer you get at the store is usually pretty carbonated and bubbly. But if you’ve ever had home brew, you know that additional carbonation isn’t present, and instead only the natural carbonation from the yeast and secondary fermentation sugars. It gives it kind of a flatter taste, so to speak, but is the same as any other beer just without extra carbonation.

Cask ale is the same thing: Beer is brewed as usual, placed into a smaller keg with extra sugars for secondary fermentation and allowed to work its magic. It’s unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated. Live yeast is still present in the container as well, meaning it continues to mature on it’s own. (Again, this is noting new to home brewers. Yeast usually ends up in bottles and your brew gets better with time. Usually.)

SweetWater does an excellent job of celebrating and honoring cask ale. For the past few years, they’ve invited upwards of 100 companies, businesses, restaurants, home brewers and others to come and brew their own casks. They then invite the public to come and sample all these different beers in an event that’s part competition, part festival.

Last year was the first time I went and I was floored at how good some of these glorified home brews were. I saw beers with ingredients I never imagined being used and some casks that rivaled some of the better beers I’ve had in my life. All this week, the brewery has been teasing what will be on hand this year on the BYCO Twitter page. Here’s just a sampling:

This stuff is seriously ridiculous. My mouth has been watering all week.

One of the biggest problems last year was the cramped and confined conditions, but with SweetWater’s massive expansion, they’ve increased how many tents they’ll be able to put up, meaning this year’s festival will literally be bigger and better than ever before.

If you’re in or around the Atlanta area, this is not one to miss.


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