Firkin tapped at 3:00 p.m. sharp! Casks served via traditional beer engine.

Feb 24th Gold Digger IPA
March 2nd Hop Donkey
March 9th McFords IRA
March 16th Red Horse

New Beer Engine Doubles Capacity For Wednesday Night Cask Ale

A seemingly small addition behind the bar will result in a huge improvement in one of the Auburn Alehouse’s most popular offerings.  “Wednesday Night Cask Ale” events start at 3 p.m. when a new firkin is tapped.  Starting soon a second beer “engine” will be installed, effectively doubling capacity with the flexibility of tapping two casks.

A firkinA beer “engine” is an old English method for dispensing beer from a cask before the advent of pressurization, according to Brewmaster Brian Ford.  “The hand-operated engine actually pulls beer from the cask,” he said.

“Firkin Wednesdays” have become one of the most popular nights of the week, Ford said, because of he variety of craft beers that are offered.  Here’s how it works:  Draft beer is first conditioned and carbonated in the cask.  Then brewers get creative by adding spices, more hops, fruit or even wood chips to develop just 10.8 gallons of very unusual beer.

“We can really change the dynamics and create one-offs—they are never the same, and that’s the beauty,” Brian said.  “It’s kind of like a special treat, and it keeps our craft beer lovers coming back for more.”

Also of note, making the beer in small batches helps reduce the “perceived bitterness” of the beer, according to Brian.  “Because there is less carbon dioxide in the beer—less carbonation—most people detect less bitterness from the hops.”

Beers produced for Cask Ale Night are priced at $5 per pint and usually sell out quickly.

Cask ale, or as it’s sometimes referred to Real ale, is a time-honored method of naturally carbonating beer by re-fermentation in a Firkin (10.8 gallon barrel-shaped vessel).

Cask beer is served directly from the cask via a Beer engine which pulls the beer out of the cask using no external gas pressure. This keeps the beer only slightly carbonated allowing the subtle flavors and aromas of malt and hops to be fully available to the palate. The Brewer will often (usually in our case) add dryhops or oak chips into the cask as well.

This technique was employed throughout Brewing History before the advent of glass bottle or gas pressurized kegs. Cask conditioned beers are the perfect showcase for a Brewer’s talent!