Quick! Recall the last beer festival, in Washington, you attended! Was it Strange Brew Fest? What about Winter Beer Fest? Or was it Oktoberfest? Anything short of a few weeks ago and we will question your resolve to try every beer in Washington state.
Which is why we wanted to drive the point that you have another opportunity to check a beer festival off your list for 2013. Washington Brewers Guild Cask Fest is coming March 30th.
Since as far back as we can recall, the Washington Brewers Guild has produced this festival to promote Washington Beers. This is in fact one of the few festivals in Washington state that promotes ONLY Washington breweries.
Cask? Oh yeah, we were getting to that.
In the early days beer was extracted via hand pump from barrels known as casks. And the vessel of convenience was, you guessed it, the wood barrel. Course today we have stainless steel or aluminum but the shape remains the same.
Then around the 60’s the industry realized the potential of stainless / aluminum barrels, mostly because cleaning, sterilizing, and refilling was a breeze. Include the increasing appreciation for beer and you have the making of the keg.
The cask still exists however it differs from the keg in the assembly and social appreciation.
The essential differences between a traditional cask and a keg are that the latter has a centrally located downtube and a valve that allows beer in and gas out when filling and vice versa when beer is dispensed. Also kegs have a simple concave bottom whilst the barrel or cask design allowed sediment to be retained in the cask. This aspect of keg design meant that all the beer in the keg was dispensed which therefore required that the beer be processed by filtration, fining or centrifuging, or some combination of these, to prevent sediment formation. Lastly, kegs have straight sides unlike the traditional barrel or cask shape. In order to get the beer out of a keg and into a customer's glass, it can be forced out with gas pressure, although if air or gas at low pressure is admitted to the top of the keg it can also be dispensed using a traditional hand pump at the bar.
By the early 1970s most beer in Britain was keg beer, filtered, pasteurised and artificially carbonated, and most British brewers used carbon dioxide for dispensing keg beers. This led to beers containing more dissolved gas in the glass than the traditional ale and to a consumer demand for a return to these ales. By contrast, in Ireland, where stout was dominant, the use of a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen for dispensing prevented the beer from becoming over-carbonated. Some of the last remaining natural beers in the world were about to disappear forever. Though rare examples of natural beers could still be found in the farmhouse beers of Northern Europe and the maize beers of South America for example, in essence the last great stronghold of natural beer was about to be wiped out. In 1971 the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was founded in Britain to save what they came to term "real ale".
Ok, so they pump their own beer? Precisely.
Which makes the Washington Brewers Guild Festival so unique. Hand pumped beers with only the natural occurring carbonation to awake your senses. Plus, unlike previous years the Washington Cask Beer Festival has moved to a new venue, the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.
Word of caution as there will be some who will take the lazy route and offer up ‘firkins’ of beer.
What’s a firkin? Let’s just say they use gravity to pour your beer.
With a tentative, unannounced, draft list we can only tell you that you should order your ticket for Session 1 (from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM) or Session 2 (from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM), for the March 30th event.
Saturday March 30th, 2013 12pm – 4pm & 6pm - 10pm
Washington Brewers Guild Cask Festival at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109
$40 advance tickets or $45 at the door, if still available. Admission includes a commemorative tasting glass and up to 25 sample tastes. Designated driver admission is $5 and available at the door only. Separate ticket required for each session. 21 and over only.
Tickets are on sale online at www.washingtonbrewersguild.org and at select outlets; 99 Bottles (Federal Way), Bottleworks (Seattle), Full Throttle Bottles (Seattle), and Malt & Vine (Redmond)
More about the Washington Brewers Guild Cask Festival
Washington Cask Beer Festival is a major highlight of the Pacific Northwest beer festival scene. The event features one-of-a-kind handcrafted cask-conditioned beers from over 40 Washington breweries. To stay true to the tradition of cask-conditioned beer the Festival requires brewers to naturally condition the beer in a firkin or other vessels without artificially introducing CO2. Poured by gravity the result is smooth ale with a thick creamy head that brings out subtle, nuanced flavors.
Also featured at the event is the Herbert’s Legendary Cask Festival Ale, a special cask beer brewed collectively by the Washington brewers in memory of Bert Grant, a legendary Washington beer icon. This year’s Herbert’s will be brewed at Snipes Mountain Brewery in Sunnyside in collaboration with other Central Washington area breweries. Herbert’s will be available at the Cask Festival as well as select pubs prior to the event.
About the Washington Brewers Guild
Washington Brewers Guild is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build a community of Washington State brewers, advance their common interests through the legislative process and promote the quality and value of their beers. www.washingtonbrewersguild.org www.facebook.com/WACaskFestival
About the photo’s author
+Russ is a photo blogger and an avid beer drinker.