The first event in the National Capital Craft Beer Week schedule was the sessions Cask Ale Festival hosted at The Arrow and Loon. Featuring over 25 casks from both regional and provincial breweries there was something for every palate - from malty to sweet to biter enamel tingling hops.
Cask Ales, or 'real ales,' are neither pasteurized nor filtered and have their carbonation levels maintained by a secondary fermentation within the cask rather than the addition of carbon dioxide or nitrogen. When a cask is tapped (with a mallet and foamy dramatics) it starts oxidizing and only stays drinkable for 48 hours. On first sip, you'll notice a gentle carbonation, higher serving temperature (12-14°C) and a richer, more developed flavour. I like sampling casks of beer I have tried previously on draught or bottle - there can be quite a taste difference.
Armed with water and pretzels I made my way through the brewery tables trying one or two small samples from each brewery. Here were my highlights:
- Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.'s Rolling Black "Out" IPA
- Great Lakes Brewery's 25th Anniversary Belgian Saison: Big banana flavour, slightly fruity.
- Muskoka Brewery's Crackberry Ale: Bittersweet with the addition of blackberry.
- Kichesippi Beer Co.'s All Natural Blonde: Emphasis on grain and malts, loved the big flavour.
- Mill Street Brewery's White Cap Ale: Refreshing, grapefruit - surprised me.
National Capital Craft Beer Week continues this week with special menus at participating restaurants and pubs, a beer and food paired menu by Muskoka Brewery at the Hintonburg Public House, a beer and food paired menu with Stephen Beaumont and the two-day Craft Beer Festival.
What were your cask highlights?