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First Cask Problems?

Recently was very lucky to acquire a pin cask from NB thanks to my girlfriend.

May have a problem, maybe someone with more experience can put me at ease here. I have a Nut Brown Ale, after a typical 10 day primary I primed in the cask with the appropriate amount of dextros (4 or 5 oz, may have even used too much priming sugar but read that this was OK for casks, also skipped the cask finings since I didn’t have any on hand) Yeast was the Wyeast West Yorkshire.

Anyway, I planned on venting the cask tonight per instructions since we have quite a few coming over to tap it on Saturday. When I tapped the spire as I’ve seen on the BrewTV episode it had an initial burst and hiss. Very brief. Stuck in the soft spire then NOTHING. No fobbing, no bubbles out of the spire, no more hiss.

Replaced with the hard spire. Cask was in the basement at 50-55 degrees for about 3 weeks after a few days at room temp. SOMEONE SAY IT’LL BE FINE!

Told everyone to expect low carb beer but if it’s totally still it’ll be a disappointment to me. Also had a different batch of bottles with this yeast carb in the basement just fine. Any guesses?

Thanks

I don’t know anything about this casking thing, but I don’t see how you would get much carbonation in 3 weeks at 50°. I have a barrel aged Porter bottled that is just showing signs of carbonation after 3 weeks at 68°. That said, maybe you have a leak somewhere in your cask?

[quote=“fuzzyglasses”]SOMEONE SAY IT’LL BE FINE! [/quote]It’ll be fine…just flat! :cheers:

How long was it in the cask before you vented it? It usually takes 2-3 weeks to carbonate, just like any other bottle conditioning. I would drink it right away. Venting should only be done 24-72 hours before consumption. The hard spile will keep it somewhat stable, but it’s really gonna be best much sooner.

50 - 55 degrees is a little cold for conditioning. should be 10 or 15 degrees warmer really…i hope it turns out all right for you, but if its not carbed, that means the yeast havent converted the sugar yet, and if you added a lot of sugar it could be not only a flat beer, but a sweet beer. you could try moving it somewhere warmer until saturday, but theres not really much to do at this point to my knowledge. should still get you drunk though, just think of it like this, for thousands of years people drank flat beer. best of luck.

I’ll let ya’ll know how it turns out. Telling myself it’ll be fine. Just not what I was expecting when I vented. I atleast got a good hiss.

It’s been in the cask for a total of 3 weeks & 3 days. most guides say all you need is 10-14 days. Could have been as much as a week at room temps before it went into the basement. We shall see. Thanks

you could always roll the cask around for a few minutes and try to mix everything up inside, and empty into bottles, cap and hope for a better outcome in a couple more weeks. bottling is a pain, but if you pour that first brew and just arent satisfied, its a better option than pouring it down the drain. keep us posted.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and pick up Cellarmanship by Patrick O’Neill. It’s a pretty quick read and it’s very informative on how to serve cask beer.

Also, 4-5 oz of sugar for priming a pin cask is really too much. The goal in carbonating cask beer is to get only the amount of CO2 in solution as would be naturally retained by the beer at cellar temp (50-55). This is somewhere around 1.0-1.2 volumes of CO2. I use about 20 grams of sugar to reach that carbonation level in my pin cask. Cask beer will not – and should not – be as highly carbonated as force-carbonated beer on draft or in bottles. The lower carbonation level is not only traditional, but it allows the drinker to better perceive the malt flavors, IME.

Finally, no matter what most literature/sources say, 10-14 days is not enough time to naturally carbonate a beer either in a cask or in bottles. I would give it three weeks – at a minimum – at an ambient temperature of 70-75.

Cask beer is awesome, but it takes a few casks to get the hang of things. Good luck!

[quote=“Pawtucket Patriot”]If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and pick up Cellarmanship by Patrick O’Neill. It’s a pretty quick read and it’s very informative on how to serve cask beer.

Also, 4-5 oz of sugar for priming a pin cask is really too much. The goal in carbonating cask beer is to get only the amount of CO2 in solution as would be naturally retained by the beer at cellar temp (50-55). This is somewhere around 1.0-1.2 volumes of CO2.
Cask beer is awesome, but it takes a few casks to get the hang of things. Good luck![/quote]

While this is partially true, it’s often better to overcarbonate the beer in the cask, because the excess carbonation will be vented off by soft spiling. That’s the whole purpose of the soft spile - to allow the carbonation to equalize to atmospheric pressure. The risk of using too little sugar is undercarbonation, which is basically impossible to fix with casked beer.

Good point, Vaughn. I still think, however, that 4-5 oz of sugar is overkill for a pin cask.

Looking back at my notes it’s been primed with 4 oz per the instructions from NB. We’ll see how it pours tomorrow but perhaps the temperature had a lot to do with how it’s been carbed. Next time I’ll keep it at ferm temp the whole time.

I rolled, shifted and tip to “roused” it several times during the 3 weeks it’s been in the cask to aid in the carbonation.

Alas, you’re right that this is something that’ll take a few times to get right. One post or website did recommend the key to carbonation is having the proper amount of headspace in the cask. He suggested 3 inches from the top (presumably a firkin) I’ve filled this one to about .25" from the top. Perhaps this may have been filled too much. Any advice on that Patriot? Thank you all for the input. I’ll update this after the party.

I don’t think a lack of headspace is an issue. In fact, you may want to affix the spigot and actually taste the beer to get a sense of the carbonation level. The less headspace, the more CO2 will be in solution (the inverse is also true, incidentally). So perhaps the lack of hiss after putting in the soft spike is the result of not having much headspace for the CO2 to hang out in. But I think it’s more likely that the temperature at which the cask was conditioning was too cold. The yeast were working, but only very slowly.

I had to try. Only in order to sleep tonight.

I’m happy to say it’s perfect. As carbonated as a cask should be. Nice thin white head. Lacing all the way through. SO glad.

Figured I would have about this carb much after venting out strongly for a day or two but the over priming and the low basement temps about equalized and beer tastes great. Can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say.

Thanks again.

glad to hear. well done.

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