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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Brewsday Tuesday: Tapping a cask of British real ale at Avenue Pub

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 9:16 AM

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On Jan. 17, The Avenue Pub will tap a fresh cask of Thornbridge Brewery's Halcyon IPA. Thornbridge is a brewery in Derbyshire, England which — unlike many British breweries — is known for its innovative use of hops. Halcyon is Thornbridge’s version of an imperial IPA, which utilizes even more hops in the brewing process, making it an excellent choice for international shipping.

Properly cask conditioned real ale is simply beer that has completed its secondary fermentation in the vessel, or “firkin,” from which it is served. It’s poured and consumed at cellar temperature and its only carbonation is what occurs naturally during the conditioning process with residual yeast. It needs to be served fresh, as it’s unpasteurized, and usually is of “session,” or low ABV strength. This will be the first time any Louisiana bar will tap a cask of British real ale.

“What Americans drink out of firkins is dramatically different that what the British know as real ale,” says Avenue Pub owner Polly Watts. “There is massive debate on this subject and a lot of good points are made that what we do shouldn't even be called cask.”

Indeed, many cask ale and real ale purists protest the addition of new ingredients to a cask conditioned beer, like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Extreme beers and real ale do not mix, in any traditional sense.

I would love to have a NOLA Brown, Parish Envie or LA-31 Biere Pale on cask without any additions or adulteration. Perhaps this taste of a cask ale from the British Isles can kick off a trend of simple, well-brewed, cask conditioned ales in the Louisiana craft beer community.

— Nora McGunnigle is a freelance writer and blogger. Follow her beer writing at

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