Monday, February 18, 2013

Cask Beer

The best and worst beer you will ever have

So you probably have gone into a bar and maybe saw something labeled as beer on "cask". Or maybe you have seen some old English like long black tap handles  where the bartender has to pump the the beer and for some unknown reason it takes forever.
So what's the deal? Is this some BS marketing thing to make you think you are getting some old timey beer but really doesn't have much difference? Actually not at all. Beer served from cask is actually very different than the beer that you get served from a keg.



Basically the difference is beer that is served in a keg is beer that the yeast has been filtered out and is served under pressure with CO2. A cask (which wood isn't used anymore but metal like a keg) beer goes under a second fermentation inside the cask itself gaining carbonation from that second fermentation. So when you serve it, it is not under pressure, like keg beer is, it has to be "hand pumped" because the carbonation is not pushing the beer out.

So then what does this mean? What it means is on one hand you get smaller bubbles from the natural carbonation that makes the beer tastes more creamy. Often beers like stouts are put on cask to give them more of a creamy taste. Also often bitter beers like IPA's are put on cask to mellow them out.

What's the downside? Well the downside is that cask beer can go down hill fast. Just after a couple of days it can start becoming flat and muddy. Bad beer bars will serve beer on cask long after they should and when you drink them they taste awful, like if you left out a beer open for a day.

So next time when you get a chance, try a beer on cask and taste the difference. Look at it and notice the difference of the head and the richness of the taste.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rum Tasting Review

A while back I had a rum tasting with some friends. We looked at a variety of "premium" gold rums, sipping them. The following are some of the notes and information we came up for each of the rums.

Pyrat XO Reserve

Style - Caribbean Rum (gold) Blend

Age: 15

This rum is actually a blend of 9 different Caribbean Rum that has been aged 15 years in French Limousin and American sweet oak barrels.

Flavors: Spicy, vanilla and sweet tastes. The flavors are somewhat complex while at the same time mostly mild.

Rating: 4/5

Plantation Rum - 1995 Barbados

Style: Barbados (gold)

Age: ?

This rum is made following traditional Barbados methods and aged in bourbon barrels. I personally prefer to shake this rum with a little lime juice and simple syrup and server it up like a martini.

Flavors: Mild, and mellow.

Rating: 3/5

Tommy Bahama - Golden Sun

Type: Barbados Gold

Age: 3 years

This rum uses black strap molasses from the Caribbean as it's main ingredient. We found this to be the worst rum in the tasting.

Flavors: Strong alcohol taste, no complexity.

Rating 2/5


Type: Guatemala Gold (this now is made in Trinidad)

Age: 12 years

Aged 12 years in oak barrels produced from sugar cane that is double distilled in small copper pots. This was the favorite rum of the testing.

Flavors: Rich full flavor, smooth, smokey, great finish.

Rating: 5/5

El Dorado Special Reserve

Type: Demerara (gold)

Age: 15 year

This is a rum blend that has won many awards. Some found the rum to be very good and some in our group found this rum to be very mediocre.

Flavors: Smooth, sweet, many fruit like flavors.

Rating: 4/5

Ron Zacapa Centenario

Style: Guatemala (gold)

Age: 23 year (oldest year)

This is a blend of many different vintages. This rum has probably won more awards than any other rum has. This is one of my favorite rums to drink neat or over ice.

Flavors: Very complex flavors, Nutmeg, vanilla spicy yet smooth.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sidney Frank - The man behind Grey Goose vodka

I found this interesting article about the man who created Grey Goose and now is trying to promote Corazón tequila:

Sidney Frank - The man behind Grey Goose vodka

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Moscow Mule

In a mug - preferably a copper Moscow Mule Mug (check Ebay)
juice of 1/2 lime
2 ozs Vodka
Fill with Ginger beer (Cock and Bull is classic but spicer ones are good)

Drink historians say this is the drink that made Vodka famous in the US. It was created in 1941 when John Martin who recently purchased Smirnov vodka was at the Cock 'n Bull Tavern in Los Angles with owner Jack Morgan. Jack Morgan wanted to sell his ginger beer, John Martin wished to sell his vodka that most Americans were not interested in and Morgan's girlfriend had inherited a copper goods business. Putting it all together and adding lime juice a classic drink was born.

This drink is very nice clean and refreshing. You may wish to get a ginger beer that has more bite to it than the classic Cock 'n Bull. Cock 'n Bull ginger beer is much more smother like a ginger ale. Not what you would expect from a ginger beer.

4 out of 5

More information about the Moscow Mule can be read about in:

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails : From the Alamagoozlum Cocktail to the Zombie

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Game: Drunken Master

I found this cool flash game where you bartend making drinks.

It is pretty neat and for mixed drinks you have to actually make the recipes.

Drunken Masters

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Book Review: And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails

Wayne Curtis's book "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails" is a US History lesson told from the focal point of rum. Each of the 10 chapters begins with a drink that represents a time period in US history that the chapter covers.

He walks us through the invention of rum from molasses, the waste by product of refined sugar on colonial plantations, the pirates who had ships loaded with rum from the plunder of English ships that carried rum as part of each sailors daily rations, through Prohibition where rum was demonized and banned, the boom of US mainland fascination of Hawaiian culture and more.

As a very nice bonus there is an appendix of additional historic rum drink recipes from through the ages.

I found this book very interesting and easy to read. The only problem I have with this book is it sometimes becomes too much presentation of facts and loses its story telling narrative.

If you are Booze historian like I am, or even somewhat interested in the historical aspect of rum in the US, this is one you must add to your collection.

Rating: 4 out 5

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Neat vs. Straight Up

There is a lot of confusion between the two terms "neat" and "straight up". The difference is that a "neat" drink is something served that is undiluted and with no ice. For example a shot of tequila, whiskey or vodka. A "straight up" drink on the other hand is one that has been mixed or shaken with ice and then strained. For example, a martini is a drink that is "straight up" but not "neat" or "on the rocks".