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Small scale cask conditioning?

I figured this would be sorta related since a) casks and kegs are similar in that they hold a large (bigger than a few servings) amount of beer and b) some people use corny kegs as casks.

I bottled a batch today and was thinking about how nice it would be to have a draft system. But, I really like the character that beer conditioned with yeast tends to develop. Not to mention I like to keep things as “organic/traditional” (read, I don’t want to spend money on equipment and refills of CO2) as possible.

Then my mind wandered to cask conditioning. But I’m the only one in the house that drinks beer and getting a 4.5 gallon pin and filling that would be silly because there’s no way I would drink that much beer before it went bad in a cask.

Has anyone experimented with making some kind of small scale (1 gallon or less) cask from soda bottles or something? Seems like it would be cool to have cask ale on hand all the time without it going bad.

I don’t have any experience with this, but I have seen a youtube video where a dude makes a beer engine for 1-2l soda bottles. It actually didn’t seem that had to make.

From a couple of days ago…


A party pig from Quoin works great as a cask. It holds 2 1/4 gallons and will hold pressure for several days. I rack the beer from the fermenter to the fill line and add a couple of ounces of sugar (heated with a bit of water to make a syrup) instead of the gel packs that come with the kit. The gel packs are suppose to inflate as the beer drains to hold the carbonation in the liquid. I have never used the gel packs, and the pig has held the carbonation just fine. I store the pig upright until a few days before I am ready to serve. I vent it a little bit and then lay it down on its side. After it settles for a couple of days, it is ready to drink. The beer comes out creamy and maybe a bit foamy for the first few pints, but the carbonation eventually settles down and you get a nice, creamy, full flavored pint. The beer stays in great condition for a couple of weeks which is enough time for me to drink all of it on my own. I never let the cask beer go below 50 degrees so if you like to cold crash the beer, you are ruining the point of cask ale. It is kind of like garden tomatoes vs. supermarket tomatoes.

I also use a 3 gallon keg to cask condition for a party. You can attach a picnic tap to the gas in barb and serve from the gas in valve. If the beer stops flowing, you can attach another picnic tap to the liquid out barb, and allow air into the keg through the picnic tap. The only problem with this is you have to drink the beer in one sitting.

You can dry hop in both of these vessels which makes the beer even better.

Get a 5L mini keg. It holds about 1.3 gallons (about a 12 pack) and has a built in spout. You can buy a decent commercial beer (not heiny or new castle, the minis they use are not reusable) and re-use the keg, just gotta replace the top bung.

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