Last night was Deschutes Brewery‘s Firkin-A cask beer event, and they did a really nice job of putting it on and inviting other brewers to come and pour their casked offerings—including 10 Barrel Brewing, McMenamins Old St. Francis School, and Brewers Union Local 180. (Worthy Brewing was originally going to be there too, but blew out the bung on their cask the night before, so had nothing to bring unfortunately.)
The event took over the top floor of their downtown Bend Pub, and the brewers with casks were arranged throughout, while they also had out a variety small bite foods as well. All the beers were tasty, and there was a nice turnout of people without being too crazy. Here are pictures plus some notes about the beers.
Deschutes had a cask of their Pub Bitter on hand, which is practically made to be served this way: it’s a perennial favorite and one you’ll often find on one of the two cask handles they have. This was very good, though a bit too cold to be a “proper” cask offering (it had just been pulled from the cooler) if you want to get technical about it.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School brewer Mike White was on hand pouring a new beer: Note Taker IPA. This is a really nice beer, amazingly soft and floral on cask, and though it was 6.7% abv (the highest of the four present), which sometimes higher-alcohol beers like that don’t present well on cask, it was really drinkable so that you didn’t even notice the strength.
10 Barrel brewer Ben Shirley was pouring a surprise: their S1NIST0R Black Ale krausened with a bit of German Berliner Weisse, which turned out amazing: a hint of the lactic sour wheat tempered the Black Ale down to an incredibly soft and smooth texture which was only enhanced by the cask treatment. I never would have though to do this.
And of course when it comes to cask ales, really the master is Ted Sobel of Brewers Union. He brought his cask the day before to give it time to properly settle, as well as his portable beer engine to pour a proper ale—in full-sized glasses. He brought his Wotcha Best Bitter, this one brewed with Challenger hops, a lovely beer that is only 4.3% abv. This is not a sipping beer, as Ted told people: this is a beer meant to be drank heartily and enjoyed by the glass, because it’s a low-strength session ale. It was fantastic, and with the beer engine it presents a beautiful pour as well, not unlike what you’d see from a nitro tap:
It’s mesmerizing to watch the beer gradually clear as the superfine bubbles rise to the top.
Overall it was a great event and one I would like to see more of—cask ales are so under-represented generally, so this was a breath of fresh air.