At the risk of teaching Granny to suck eggs, we thought it might be worth setting out a few notes on handling our traditional cask-conditioned beer. We do our best to ensure that it reaches you in good condition, but you have a very important part to play in ensuring that it stays that way. It is, after all, a 'living' product, and will spoil fairly easily if mishandled.
The ideal cellar temperature is between 8°C and 12°C. A steady temperature is also important.
Use your casks in rotation, lowest gyle number first. The gyle number is written on the shive.
After delivery, set the cask up on a stillage, tilted slightly forward and wedged securely. Vent the cask once stillaged. To do this, punch in the centre of the shive. Our beers do not usually require a ‘soft’ porous wooden spile peg, just use a hard spile peg. Ease the spile peg occasionally to vent excess gas.
Our beers drop bright remarkably quickly, but you should really allow at least 4 hours before serving. Do not disturb the cask, especially whilst on dispense.
Having vented the cask, it can now be tapped. Make sure the tap is closed before driving it home through the centre of the keystone.
Sample for taste and clarity from the tap before connecting up the beer line. Once tapped, provided the cask is kept at cellar temperature, it should remain ‘sweet’ for 3/4 days. Never, NEVER (!), ever return beer or slops to the cask as it will very quickly lead to spoilage.
During dispense, loosen the hard spile to avoid a vacuum forming in the cask – at night, or when the cask is not being dispensed, push the hard spile back in. This will help retain the condition in the beer.
It goes without saying that all taps, lines, beer engines and equipment should be kept clean. Cleaning should be done at least once a week - we suggest on a regular day like every Sunday, perhaps. We strongly recommend a cleaner which contains a dye to tell you when the lines are clean. Follow their instructions carefully. Off-flavoured beer doesn't sell very well, and is bad for our business and yours!
When the cask is empty, remove the tap and replace with a cork. Also knock in the hard spile peg. This helps to keep the inside of the cask sweet and makes it much easier to clean!