On Jan. 17, The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Ave., 504-586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com) will tap a fresh cask of Thornbridge Brewery's Halcyon IPA. Thornbridge (www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk) is a brewery in Derbyshire, England which, unlike many British breweries, is known for its innovative use of hops. Halcyon is Thornbridge's version of an imperial IPA, which uses even more hops in the brewing process, making it an excellent choice for international shipping.
Properly cask-conditioned real ale is beer that has completed its secondary fermentation in the vessel, or firkin, from which it is served. It's poured and consumed at cellar temperature and its only carbonation comes from what occurs naturally during the conditioning process with residual yeast. The beer needs to be served fresh, as it's unpasteurized, and usually is of "session," or low alcohol by volume (ABV). This will be the first time any Louisiana bar will tap a cask of British real ale.
"What Americans drink out of firkins is dramatically different than what the British know as real ale," says Avenue Pub owner Polly Watts. "There is massive debate on this subject and a lot of good points are made that what we do shouldn't even be called cask."
Many cask ale and real ale purists object to the addition of new ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, to a cask-conditioned beer. Extreme beers and real ale do not mix.
I would love to try NOLA Brewing Company's Brown Ale, Parish Brewing Company's Envie or Bayou Teche Brewing's LA-31 Biere Pale on cask without any additions or adulteration. Perhaps this taste of a cask ale from the British Isles can kick off a trend of simple, well-brewed, cask-conditioned ales in the Louisiana craft beer community. — NORA McGUNNIGLE