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UK Real Ale Carbonation

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  • UK Real Ale Carbonation

    There are a lot of different opinions about traditional cask ale production, and most of the viewpoints I encounter are from US brewers. Those of you in the UK: what levels of carbonation do you shoot for? Do your beers carbonate at cellar temperatures or is there a warm maturation period beforehand?

    Thanks!

    Joe

  • #2
    Joe, have you read "Cellarmanship" from CAMRA? I have a copy you could borrow. In any case, it's firm in the belief that 1.1V is right, since that's what's soluble at 13°C which is their preferred storage and serving temp.

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    • #3
      I haven't read it. Is it useful for the brewing side of things? Serving at 1.1 volumes explains why CO2 breathers are valuable (I assumed that typical carbonation levels were higher, and that setting a breather at atmospheric pressure would result in such a rapid loss of condition that protecting the beer against oxygen wouldn't matter). Thanks for the tip!

      Joe

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      • #4
        Cask breathers are great, but a strict no-no when it comes to CamRA adherant serving. NO external gas sources.

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        • #5
          No external CO2, I think, but I believe nitrogen, argon, etc. are all OK on a cask breather.

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          • #6
            In the section on cask conditioning in the Mild Ale style guide Sutula suggests a range of 1.2-1.8 V/V is most common. I generally condition at
            60F, 14-15C.

            Cheers

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            • #7
              No - no argon, no nitrogen, no external gas. To a small extent, the beer in a cask needs a little oxygen interplay to smooth out the flavours. From personal experience, good real ale is always better the day after it's been tapped and it's had some time to breathe. And no, I'm not a CamRA zelot - furthest thing from...

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              • #8
                Not that it really makes any difference, but here's the CAMRA definition:

                Real ale is a beer brewed from traditional ingredients (malted barley, hops water and yeast), matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.

                Source: http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=181061

                Has anyone heard of CAMRA de-listing a pub for using nitrogen on a cask breather?

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                • #9
                  Also wondering how camra feels about filtered beers. Can a brewery filter a beer and add back enough yeast for cask conditioning and still call it Real Ale?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jwalts
                    I haven't read it. Is it useful for the brewing side of things? Serving at 1.1 volumes explains why CO2 breathers are valuable (I assumed that typical carbonation levels were higher, and that setting a breather at atmospheric pressure would result in such a rapid loss of condition that protecting the beer against oxygen wouldn't matter). Thanks for the tip!

                    Joe
                    It's a good book, but the audience is the publican/cellarman, not the brewer.

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                    • #11
                      I agree the book was written for a pub owner not a brewer.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Woolsocks
                        Also wondering how camra feels about filtered beers. Can a brewery filter a beer and add back enough yeast for cask conditioning and still call it Real Ale?

                        They were happy enough to approve White Shield when this was the process prior to bottling. It used to be sterile filtered, primed with sucrose and a different yeast strain added and mixed in prior to bottling. Not sure what the process is now though.

                        Re the CO2 levels - the level is basically what will stay in solution at the cellar temperature. Some beers are primed with sugar, a very few with wort, and many without either, simply leaving the residual yeast to work away at the remainin fermentable sugars and produce CO2. The casks are hard spiled for transit, so may build up a bit of CO2 pressure, but then soft spiled before dispense, so any excess co2 will vent off.

                        And I know a lot of CAMRA people will not agree, but I believe they are losing their way, and they should be willing to accept a CO2 blanket and cool cellars to help keep the beer oxygen free and maintain the quality better, so we can afford to have a large number of different products selling slowly, rather than lots of choice, but all of poor quality because of slow sales.
                        dick

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                        • #13
                          i agree with thoughts on cask breathers theyre good for pubs with slow sales, and i agree that camras stance is wrong.However if you cant get rid of a firkin in three days theres something wrong.....

                          i rack into my secondry(firkins pins and kilders) at 95% fermentation after chilling to 4-6.c for a few days, the beer the achieves full fermentation in the coolroom and pub cellar before dispense. i usually get a star bright product with a little more carbonation than some but i feel the ale is better for it
                          support the diamond empire

                          www.liverpoolorganicbrewery.com

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                          • #14
                            Unfortunately there are quite a number of pubs that offer say 10 or 15 different beers, but becaus they have so may on sale, some may take a week to empty a cask, whereas if they only had say 5 different bers, they would turn them over in two or three days, and the quality of those fewer beers would be much better, and might even increase sales volumes as a result. However, the mantra is increasingly "Choice" and to hell with the quality.

                            So if you are turning over just a few qualities but rapidly, you are almost certainly selling better quality beers than if you doubled or tripled the numbers Good for you
                            dick

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jwalts
                              Is it useful for the brewing side of things?
                              No. It only covers the cellar side of things

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