Posts Tagged With: cask

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil


Beer:  Old Engine Oil
Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery
Style: English Porter
ABV: 6.0%

Serving Style: Cask
Glassware: Mug
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa



Sight: Pitch black, with a thin tan head.

Scent: Like that of creme brulee–sweet, vanilla, and caramelized sugar.  There is a note of alcohol in the aroma as well.

Flavor: A fascinating combination of hops in the form of pine, hiding beneath roasted malts and a sweet caramel coating.  We also tasted notes of citrus pith and chocolate.

Feel:  Thin but creamy, with no carbonation due to it being a cask beer.

Concluding remarks: Soulful.  Balanced.  Delicious.  Drinking the Old Engine Oil Porter is like walking through the forests of Scotland (Harviestoun’s homeland) while eating a caramel-dipped dark chocolate-covered orange and finishing the night with a bottle of red wine.  In other words, the best day (and night) ever.

CASK CAVEAT: The only reason we didn’t give this Porter a full 5 Pint Glasses is that we tried it from a cask; we eagerly await an opportunity to try the Old Engine Oil in another form, with perhaps a bit more carbonation.

PORTER CAVEAT: Have you picked up on the fact that you just read a Porter review during Stout month?  No, we didn’t get confused, but the Blind Tiger did: they had the Old Engine Oil listed on their menu board as a Stout.  We won’t hold it against them, though, because we are ever-so-glad we got to experience this beer, so much so that it was still worthy of a write-up (despite it being two months late).

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Lagunitas Imperial Stout

Beer:  Imperial Stout
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.9%


Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Mug
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa



Sight: Black with a golden brown tinge. The creamy tan head dissipates quickly.

Scent: Roasted, with a hint of bread and a note of astringent alcohol.

Flavor: Initial note of roasted alcohol, as if the alcohol has been blended with molasses; but then a strong flavor of floral, earthy fruit comes through, like that of papaya or passionfruit. (Weird.)

Feel:  Thin, with virtually no carbonation (as is the case with cask beer).

When we hear “Imperial Stout,” we think bold and roasted–exactly what this beer is not.  Call us crazy, but we taste the fruits of the Amazon here.  Granted, this Lagunitas offering was in cask form, which tends to bring out the fruit and earth notes of a beer (there was a bit of peat moss mixed in with the passionfruit and papaya), but the cask did nothing to enhance our beer-drinking experience.

Concluding remarks: While we will not be picking up the Lagunitas Imperial Stout in the near future, we are considering developing a recipe for a passionfruit beer…

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Gordon Biersch This Monk’s Gone to Heaven

Beer:  This Monk’s Gone to Heaven
Brewery: Gordon Biersch
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 6.2%

Serving Style: Draft (Cask)
Glassware: Snifter
Drinking Establishment: Churchkey, DC
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companions: A DC resident



Sight: Dark honey colored body with a very bright white head that disappears into nothingness instantly.

Scent: For a Dubbel, it’s oddly phenolic. Also, it smells like overripe red delicious apples and aging pears.

Flavor: Wait, is this a Tripel? I’m confused. This has the iconic banana clove taste that is ubiquitous in Tripels. But as I drink it, I do detect a little hazelnut in there, too.

Feel: Like all cask ales, this is flat and creamy.

Concluding remarks: This has the color of a Dubbel, but the taste of a Tripel. However, it’s local (Gordon Biersch is based in DC), served cask-style, AND REFERENCES A PIXIES ALBUM… so props, but I wouldn’t have it again.

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Chatham Porter (two ways)

On a recent excursion to Dive Bar, we were happily met with the chance to try one porter two different ways: on tap and cask-conditioned.  Read on for our side-by-side comparison of the two VERY different methods…

But first!


A cask-conditioned beer is made special by its method of storing and serving: unfiltered, unpasteurized beer is kept in a barrel, or cask, designed to retain sediment and keep the beer conditioning while its stored (the experts call this “secondary fermentation”).  This creates a natural carbonation while allowing the malt and hop flavors to develop.  (Your standard keg, or “brewery-conditioned,”  beers are pasteurized as part of the brewing process, which kills the yeast and prevents any further conditioning of the beer.)  The cask style results in a richer tasting beer, in comparison to keg beers.

While keg beer is forced out of its container using gas pressure (you know, the typical font-style tap), cask beers are served without any extraneous gas, usually by manually pulling it up from the cask using a hand pump (called a “beer engine”)–and that is why you’ll find them to be flatter and less carbonated than their keg counterparts.

Because of the natural, “living” sediment that remains in them, cask beers have a much shorter shelf life and have to be maintained at very particular, warmer temperatures.  Keg beers, on the other hand, have a longer shelf life because after they’ve been fermented and conditioned, they are chilled, filtered (to remove any yeast), and pasteurized (making them sterile, or no longer “living,” like a cask beer).  Most critics would say the pasteurization not only kills off the yeast, but also kills off a lot of the flavor, too.


Beer:  Porter
Brewery: Chatham Brewing Company
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.9% (draft) and 5% (cask)

Kerensa identifies the cask Porter by giving it bunny ears.

Serving Style: Draft and Cask
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Dive Bar, Upper West Side
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa



Sight: Deep, rich brown, with ruby notes.  Thin tan head.

Scent: Vanilla beans, roasted malts, and toffee; sweet, not bitter.

Flavor: Sweet AND bitter, like that of espresso.

Feel: Creamy and smooth.  Light carbonation.

The draft-version of this Chatham Porter lent itself to typical Porter flavorings.  It had a slightly over-roasted tone, dominated by that bittersweet Bakers chocolate flavor and notes of butterscotch.  Well-balanced, but nothing too special here.  However, it is mightily enjoyable in comparison to–dun dun DUN–the cask Porter!  Read on…



Sight: Same deep rich brown/ruby coloration.  No head.

Scent: Burnt malt, or–even better!–rubbing alcohol.  Yes, rubbing alcohol.

Flavor: Overpoweringly sour, like that of sour cherries.  Sour cherries soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Feel: Warm and flat (as is typical for a cask beer).

Many in the brewing industry refer to cask beer as “real ale,” because of its more natural, “living” characteristics.  But when your first impression of this “real” libation makes you think “rubbing alcohol,” you know something’s wrong.  The first sip resulted in immediate “eww face.”


We questioned, did we get a Blue Point Sour Cherry Imperial Stout by mistake?  We even thought that perhaps the cask had been stored too long, for usually if a cask beer is old, it oxidizes and gets an almost vinegar-y flavor; but no, the bartender assured us, they only keep their casks full for two weeks.  Thus, the only conclusion we can draw?  The Chatham Porter doesn’t fare well as a cask beer.  Quoteth Kerensa, “Gosh, that’s really bad.”

Concluding remarks: While the draft proved nothing special upon first sip, it tasted like liquified angels in comparison to the cask.  It is summed up best by this picture:

Guess which one is the cask now?

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