A couple questions here. I’m looking to brew Innkeeper (LME) and want to cask condition it. This will be my first cask so I’m trying to gather as much feedback as possible. I understand the basics of cask-conditioning and am reading Cellarmanship.
The NB recipe calls for 2wks primary and 2wks bottle condition. However, when I import the recipe in BeerSmith, the brewer racked after only 4 days in primary, then 2nd fermentation for 10 days. Then bottle conditioned for 30 days.
Any thoughts on fermentation schedule? 1-2wks, then 2wks+ in cask?
Yeast starter for second ferm in cask? or Sugar?
Dry hop recommendation? - was thinking of putting hops in a paint strainer bag and hung from fishing line with shive. ok approach? Styrian Goldings?
There’s a good Brewing TV episode on casks if I remember correctly.
I don’t really remember a whole lot about cask serving from the limited reading I did a while back but I would wait it out for the traditional two to three weeks in primary and transfer to the cask with priming sugar. Hang out for a week or two and then serve. I think another approach is to transfer to the cask a few days into fermentation so that the co2 produced from the remaining fermentation carbonates the beer??? Maybe??? That seems tough to regulate though, especially for a first run through. I would fully ferment and do the priming sugar. Use less than normal as they are supposed to be less carbonated than bottles. Not sure why you would need a yeast started in a cask? Or any additional yeast at all, what you have will be enough.
As to the dryhops I personal think this beer is pretty damn amazing on it’s own. If you haven’t made it before I suggest it as is. If you have and thought dry hops could add to it then go for it. Either way, once you tap this you need to drink it fast.
Thanks for the thoughts. I’ve seen the Brewing TV cask episodes (Gone Firkin and No More Cask ones). I’ve also seen just about every cask related video on youtube as well. The fascinating thing is that everyone does it slightly differently. (that’s why we brew to begin with, right?) I saw someone use a yeast starter (poured into the cask) and I’ve seen sugar too. Agree, seems like sugar will be easier to regulate. I will post back what I end up doing and how it turns out. Planning for a Cinco de Mayo tap.
I am no cask expert but I do make my fair share of english bitters. I would not add a yeast starter to condition… I think you want it as clear as possible, so you want a low (but not too low) number of yeast cells to carbonate.
You can do this beer with no dry hop and it’ll be good, so don’t think you have to dry hop it. But 1/4-1/2 oz of styrians are nice.I’d put them in a nylon bag.
I know it was a while ago, but how did your cask Innkeepers turn out? I’ve got my third one in the cask now. I’ve been a little confused about how best to get a little more carbonation out of it, I never get an overwhelming amount of gas out of a spile. Last time, and this time, I’m letting it sit at room temp fora while after putting it in the cask, as in bottle conditioning, to let it build a little gas. I do use a secondary and was somewhat dismayed when I transferred to the cask how little yeast there was in the bottom of the secondary. Perhaps I should go straight to the cask. I used a little more priming sugar this time to try to get a little more carbonation, 6 ounces instead of 5 of corn sugar. I figure I can always soft spile longer if there is too much. In general mine have been good, there is probably appropriate carbonation, I just think my crowds would appreciate a little more, and like I said, I’m always a little worried when I spile it because the gas is underwhelming, no need to soft spile at all. I use a sparkler on a beer engine which seems to simulate a little more carbonation anyway. I’ll likely put it at around 50 degrees one week or at least 4 days before I’m ready to serve.
Apologies in advance for the book…but responding a lot on cask lately, so this is going to be my reference post. I follow a similar process as you mentioned. Once I hit FG, I go directly to secondary in cask. You are correct that a tertiary vessel may actually hurt you…there will be even less available yeast to carbonate. Professional brewers know their yeast well enough to rack at a certain level above FG to produce a certain vol of carbonation (without adding more yeast OR sugar). They say 0.6 vols for each 1pt of gravity above FG. Hence, 2pts above FG will give you 1.2vols, just over what you need for the “optimal” 1.1vol.
For 5 gallons, I dissolve about 2-3oz dextrose in 1cup of boiling water and then cool. There’s a smaller headspace in the cask than with bottles, so you don’t need as much sugar as bottle priming. After everything is sealed up, I “take it for a walk” in the living room to get it good and mixed up. I let it sit for about a week at 68F…then, I chill to cellar temp (54F) for at least 3-4 days before venting. I vent as long as needed: 2-3days, tasting twice per day… then hard spile until serving day.
“Conditioning” (i.e. getting right carbonation level) is a factor of temp, “headspace” pressure above atmospheric and time. If you change temp or pressure, the beer condition will equalize over ‘time’ (a couple hours/days), but after that no more change will occur. There is a great picture in the Cellarmanship book by Patrick O’Neill. HIGHLY RECOMMEND getting that book. If the beer has been in cask at ferm temp (e.g. 68F) for a week, it will have produced a bunch of CO2 pressure in the headspace, some will have absorbed into the beer based on the temp/pressure. During chilling to cellar temp (54F), more of that headspace CO2 will absorb into the beer…how much depends on the pressure generated from priming. After it has fully chilled a couple days, vent. During venting, the soft spile allows any pressure above atmospheric to escape from the cask (the initial puff of air)… At this point the beer is hopefully (slightly) over-carbonated relative to the newly loss headspace pressure. That excess carbonation in the beer will dissolve out and release from the cask. At 54F, and no excess headspace pressure (same as atmospheric)…the beer will equalize at 1.1 vols in the beer. (not coincidently…that is your target vols for cask). When you soft spile and only a little gas comes out, it just means there was little “extra” gas in the headspace…not necessarily that the beer is under carbonated. (assuming it chilled properly and there was enough pressure to begin with)
Summary: Adding more sugar during priming is safer from a “do I have enough pressure” to begin, however, if you vent properly at 54F, any extra CO2 in the beer will dissolve out and you will just have sweeter, 1.1 vols beer. If you want more carbonation, you have to change a variable like temp or pressure. Colder will dissolve more CO2, but is un-authentic to cask conditioning style. Raising the atmospheric pressure so venting releases less headspace pressure is probably unrealistic (hyperbaric chamber?). Your best options are vent the headspace, but immediately put a blanket of CO2 on top greater than 14.7lbs/sqr (atmospheric pressure) - not really authentic or recommended. OR I guess you could serve DURING the venting process…the beer wouldn’t have time to equalize down to 1.1 vols and would be “over” carbonated.
BTW - Innkeeper was excellent. Also did a Belgian Amber Ale with corriander and orange peel - that was amazing. I’ve got my kellerbier and a mint chocolate stout in cask now.
Thanks, hadn’t been back in a while. As it was colder in my garage in early December than it was for my two previous casks, there was quite a bit more carbonation in this beer this time. I had added a little more priming sugar, and I’m sure that was a factor as well. It was a little less to style, but still quite good. It’s too damn cold in my garage now to serve cask, and I don’t want to do so in my house, so I’ll wait a few months before playing with it again.
Currently lagering an Octoberfest in the garage instead, and have an IPA in the fermenter.
Just casked another Innkeeper type beer. I have a pin. I’ve been playing with it a bit. I dry hopped a little just to see , though many advise against it. Anyway, as I finished, I think I’m making another error. I transferred straight from my primary fermenter, which I hadn’t been doing. There was a little headspace, the cask is actually a little more than 5 gallons. I added about 2.5 ounces of priming sugar. I had been adding more, and my last beer, not an Innkeeper was a bit sweet, I think from adding too much sugar. I was using 5 ounces. Anyway, the problem is more with the headspace, air left in the cask when I was done filling it, adding finings, sugar. I then put the bung in and “took it for a walk”. All I can think about is that air mixing with my beer can’t be a good thing. Should I be topping it off with sterile water? I guess I could purge the cask with CO2. Are any of you doing that? I’m not finding anything in “Cellarmanship” or in Graham Wheeler’s book. Graham Wheeler’s book discusses releasing pressure from the cask and making additions like hops and finings a few days after transfering to the cask. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to do that with the way I seal my cask. Thanks