Firkins vs. Casks vs. Draft

What is the difference between firkins, casks and draft beer? Firkin is  actually a unit of measurement, firkins always hold 40.91 liters, but in this day and age, a firkin of beer is also always a cask. A cask of beer is a container of beer that has been naturally carbonated by having yeast added during a second fermentation. Without additional CO2 added during pouring casks tend to have less carbonation than regular draft beer. Casks fall into two categories, gravity drawn casks and what I call sankey casks. Gravity Drawn casks are the ones that sit up on the bar in the big barrels and must be tapped and drunk within a few hours or they become warm and begin to oxidize. Sankey Casks look like regular kegs, but still have been naturally carbonated. Sankey Casks are hooked up to hand pump, but are stored much like regular draft beer in a cooler. 1/2 a pound of pressure of Co2 is added to the Sankey Cask as it is pumped so that it covers the beer left in the keg and prevents oxidization. This way the sankey cask can last for many days, as oppose to the gravity cask which usually only last a few hours. To further complicate things a gravity cask can also be hooked to a handpump to extend it’s life. Now let’s be clear, there are purists who would say that anything hooked to a hand pump is not really a Cask. There is even a whole organization CAMRA or Campagin for Real Ale has very specific rules on what is a cask or real ale. Check out their website for more info



The Porter Beer Bar

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