Cask Marque Chronicle: What’s Wrong With My Beer?

As part of Cask Marque’s continued support for the cask ale industry, we have put together a series of guidelines on all aspects in the buying, storing and selling of cask ale to ensure it reaches customers in the perfect condition.

These can be used as a guide for licensees and staff alike – hopefully as a useful reminder or as a training guide.

This week’s newsletter focuses on identifying common faults that can affect cask beer:

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Occasionally certain factors affect cask ale which can throw up some faults. Below is a Fault Finding chart, detailing what causes these faults, and some possible solutions.

Fault Possible Cause? Solution
My Cask Ale is cloudy and hazy The cask ale has been on sale for too long or gone past its best before date

The cask ale is being stored in a cellar which is too cold (<11°c)

The cask ale is being stored in a cellar which is too warm (>13°c)

The beer lines are being cleaned incorrectly or infrequently

Cask ale not fully conditioned

Hard peg not removed during service

Stock brands and container sizes which can be sold through within three days

Cask Ale picks up a ‘chill haze’ if stored in very cold conditions. Check cellar thermometer and if too cold, adjust your cellar cooling unit

Cask ale is an unpasteurised food product and will ‘spoil’ when stored in warm conditions. Check your cellar thermometer and if too warm, call a refrigeration engineer

Yeast build up in lines is a major cause of cloudy beer. Check the lines are being cleaned every 7 days with a good quality line cleaner, and ensure during the line clean the solution is agitated at least three times through the lines to shift any stubborn yeast deposits

Leave a soft peg in the cask for a further 24 hours

This causes a vacuum in the beer line and disturbs the sediment. Check a soft peg is in place before dispensing the beer

My cask ale has an ‘off’ aroma and/or flavour The cask ale has been on sale for too long or gone past its best before date

The beer lines are being cleaned incorrectly or infrequently

Perishable food is stored in the cellar

Ensure you stock brands and container sizes which can be sold through within three days

Yeast build up in lines causes beer to taste like ‘butterscotch’. Check the lines are being cleaned every 7 days with a good quality line cleaner. Ensure the lines are flushed through with plenty of cold water after a clean

The smell from fresh food can cross contaminate beer in the container

My cask ale is lively and ‘fobbing’ The beer lines are being cleaned incorrectly or infrequently

The beer is being dispensed incorrectly

The cask ale is being stored in a cellar which is too warm (>13°c) or warming up in the beer lines on the way to the bar

Yeast build up in beer lines causes all beer to fob. Take beer off sale and give the beer line a thorough clean. Ensure the line clean solution is agitated at least three times through the lines to shift any stubborn yeast deposits

Check how your staff are pouring the beer – are they pulling the handle too briskly or too fast?

Check your cellar temperature. If required, a separate ‘ale python’ can be fitted to ensure the beer is kept at cellar temperature all the way to the bar

My cask ale is flat The container is not hard pegged between sessions

The cask ale has been on sale for too long or gone past its best before date

The beer is being dispensed incorrectly

Glasswasher

Check all casks are hard pegged when premises are shut to keep the ‘condition’ in the beer

Stock brands and container sizes which can be sold through within three days

Check how your staff are pouring the beer – are they pulling the handle too slowly and not creating the required ‘head’ on the beer

Incorrect or overuse of glasswash chemicals can cause a build up of residue, which causes the head on beer to collapse. Check glasses are free rinsing

For more information about Cask Marque accreditation or cask training please visit www.cask-marque.co.uk or call 01206 752212

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