Cask Ale Abounds

Ihave been asked to offer some insight into what we plan to do at Mad Fox Brewing Company with regard to cask ale. First let me explain my history of cask ale in the DC Metro market. My first attempt at making cask ale was with Capitol City Brewing Company, Capitol Hill in 1996. I hadbeen encouraged to produce cask ale by a good friend and patron of CCBC (in fact one of the first paying customers at the first CCBC location in 1992!), Barton Day. Barton possesses a true passion for cask ale and introduced me to the real deal at the Great British Beer Festival in London, but that is another story. Well, back to my first attempt, I got hold of a Golden Gate keg since, in those days, true English firkins were hard to come by. I had filled the keg with ESB, primed it with fermenting wort and fined it, taking great care to not disturb the "cask". My assistant brewer and Igently movedthe "cask" of ESB to the bar, put it in stillage andspiled it. The beer poured a beautiful crystal clear and the first pints were wonderful. I told the bartenders how to pour this special product and asked them to please not move the "cask" whichwas poured from atop the copper bar. Next thing I see isthe bar back coming on shift and the first thing he did was pick up the "cask" and move it to the service bar. At this point it was mud and I was frustrated. I was thendetermined to do this right and later had a weekly Friday nightcask at CCBC at Shirlington when I moved over to that location in 1997 which lasted until I moved on in 2004. I believe the brewers at CCBC are doinga cask nightagain. I also had a regular cask ale program at my last gig with Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge in Leesburg, Virginia. We were so committed to cask ale that a firkin was on tap at all times andwe never ran out. It was amazing that the demand for this product was so high and, as such, we were pouring 3 plus firkins of real ale per week, sometimes more. All brings me to Mad Fox Brewing Company, our new brewpub now under construction in Falls Church, Virginia. We havebeen working with Paul Pendyck at UK Brewing Supplies to design a superior real ale kit. We have on order six water jacketed English-made Angram hand-pumpsdesigned into the backbar mill work for a beautiful display and have searched for the right size refrigerated cabinets so we can have the firkins on display. We have 50 firkins on order as well to ensure that we can keep a good reserve and maybe while away some gems for future vintagetappenings. The concept is not to necessarily have all six hand pumps working at the same time with different products but to have at least 3 or more on with backups at the ready, perfectly conditioned, so that when a cask runs out we turn the clip around on one and turn another aroundto beon. Nothing worse than running out during Friday night rush and that poor bar back rushing around to put a "fresh" one on that has not had the time to be properly conditioned. Cask ale is not something to be rushed, it would not be proper! More to come, Cheers, Bill