Cask Ale in a Bag/Box

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jmdrpi, Dec 20, 2020.

  1. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    A local brewery here in PA (Forest & Main) that pre-COVID normally had several cask conditioned beers offered at any given time at their pub, announced they are going to release a Dark Mild in a 5L bag in a box package for to-go sales. Similar to boxed wine, so no oxygen going back into the beer.

    They said they were inspired by Machine House Brewery in Seattle.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/B-qb9lTgghl/?igshid=18w8cycdhilm

    Not sure if other breweries as well have done this before. Anyone have beer in this format before? How long did it hold up?
     
  2. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,857) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    A cardboard and plastic pin! :slight_smile:

    Be interesting to hear the opinions on the beer.
     
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  3. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    Forest&Main is recommending to drink within a few days since this is their first try at it. They were taking limited pre-orders but it sold out with an hour of them posting about it, so I'm going to have to wait until next time to try it.

    Based on their Instagram page, looks like Machine House has been doing it for months, so I assume its good enough for repeat buyers.
     
  4. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,372) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    Arrrgggghhh!!! They’re sold out. I would have been much happier not knowing this existed.
     
  5. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,267) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Paging @marquis for an expected response to the snippet above. :slight_smile:
     
  6. moodenba

    moodenba Devotee (419) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    That's a great idea. I wish a brewery in my area would do something like that. I don't think oxidation over a few days would be an issue. However, I think the bag would have a negligible carbonation level, less than most cask ale. That could deter some potential customers, but I think I would try it if the product became available here. I'd keep it in the garage in winter. By the way, I did have a cask dark mild several years ago at Jimmy's 43 in Manhattan. The cask was perched on the bartop. An old colleague remembered accompanying his father to a New Jersey bar in the early 50's that had a winter ale bar-top cask (maybe Ballantine?).
     
  7. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,857) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Yeah, I'd have thought they'd allow a "breather" for that true cask experience.

    Be your own Publican!
     
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  8. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (8,029) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    I've not heard of any issues with Machine House's beers that is packaged this way.
     
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  9. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    Yes, I would think bags couldn't hold much pressure so the conditioning would have to be spot on
     
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  10. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Zealot (503) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    If I lived near Forest & Main, I’d be very interested. Sounds awesome IMO!
     
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  11. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,148) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    One of the earliest craft breweries on the east coast, Wm Newman Brewing Co., ( opened in 1981) in Albany, NY sold their beer like that initially (later had bottles contract-brewed at several different breweries).

    You could buy them and get them refilled at the brewery and eventually they had a small retail presence, too. 1 gallon/4 liter or 2.5 gallons.
    [​IMG]
    They did OK as far as shelf life - 4 pints of beer, I shared them with a friend. Although, I remember finding them in one store, probably sitting too long and they looked about to explode.:grimacing:
     
    #11 jesskidden, Dec 21, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2020
  12. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (1,852) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey
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    I’m about an hour away from them but willing to seek it out if the style is right
     
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  13. BJC

    BJC Initiate (180) Nov 9, 2002 New Jersey

    I took a couple of trips to Albany to buy some. There was a pale ale, an amber ale and a winter warmer : all good. I remember playing pool in the bar down the street with a guy who drove up with me.
    The big dog from RCA was the landmark.
     
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  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,857) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    A small brewpub in Wisconsin sold their beers similar to this, but no box.

    IIRC -- There was a bag within a plastic keg. I think they were called "pigs" because of their shape, but they had "taps" just like your depiction.

    Was probably the mid-90s +/-.
     
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  15. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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  16. TheBungyo

    TheBungyo Champion (812) Dec 1, 2004 Washington

    I bought a few of these from Machine House and they were outstanding. It's the closest I've had to cask while drinking at home.
     
  17. M-Fox24

    M-Fox24 Meyvn (1,183) Mar 17, 2013 New Jersey
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    Hogshead has had a solid workaround -



    [​IMG]
     
  18. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (430) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    The only thing I'd be worried about is the bag inflating due to the carbonation coming out. I suppose the box should hold some in solution, but cardboard is pretty flexible. IIRC it's the pressure inside that keeps carb in the beer.
    |But that said, I'd definitely try it if a brewery nearby would run that, and if they come up with something for homebrewers I'd definitely look into it as well.
     
  19. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,194) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    Next time I'm in Colorado, I'm going to have to make this happen.
     
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  20. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,173) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    So 5L = about 14 12oz beers. Instead of the bag /box and risking carbonation loss, why not just go for those mini metal kegs I’ve seen Heineken and some German beers sold in? Or does that take away the “cask” marketing angle? I don’t think a hand pumped English beer can be replicated well in a bag in a box. Maybe I’m wrong though (hopefully it works).
     
  21. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,015) Jan 22, 2011 New York
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    I’ve done this in the UK. Beer tasted great but wasn’t really put to the test properly as far as longevity goes, since each time we had it filled in front of us at the brewery and had finished it a couple hours later.
     
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  22. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,857) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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  23. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    come on, this beer is made to be drank by the Imperial Pint! So only about 9 glasses!
    [​IMG]
    Also, I assume plastic bag is way cheaper and easier to seal up once filled.
     
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,881) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I wonder if F&M got this idea from how beer is 'packaged' in China!?!:thinking_face:

    Cheers!

    P.S. You provide your own straws?

    [​IMG]
     
  25. marquis

    marquis Champion (802) Nov 20, 2005 England

    I rise to the challenge :slight_smile:
    The whole point of cask ale, and the reason that it developes and blossoms BECAUSE of the presence of air. But in small quantities over a short period of time.
    Ron Pattinson (aka Patto1ro) once described how he arranged for a brewery to split the brew into two, half was kegged and the rest was casked. There was little difference between them on the first day, but after that the casked half was palpably superior and kept getting better until sold out.
    If oxygen is excluded you simply have a large, bottle conditioned vessel of beer.
     
    #25 marquis, Dec 21, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2020
  26. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Meyvn (1,233) Apr 21, 2014 Canada (ON)
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  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,881) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Well, one difference is the the difference in carbonation level with the kegged beer likely at something like 2.5 volumes of CO2 while the cask beer should be in the neighborhood of 1.5 volumes of CO2. This delta of carbonation amount results in a markedly different drinking experience for my palate.

    Plus at bars the kegged beers are typically served cold (e.g., 40 degrees F) while ideally a cask beer is served warmer (e.g., cellar temperature like 50 - 55 degrees F). This difference in temperature will also result in a notably different drinking experience as well.

    Having stated the above, I too have a preference for a cask beer 1-2 days after tapping and served without a cask breather.

    Cheers!
     
  28. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    How many days did you typically drink them over the course of? Any observations on changes in flavor or carbonation level?
     
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  29. Providence

    Providence Crusader (715) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
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    Cask ale in large quantities? I'm in. And is that Bitter reading 4.2% abv? 5 litres of a sub-5% bitter that has been cask conditioned is precisely what I want to consume over the course of Christmas Eve and Day. Jealous as all fuck.
     
  30. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (430) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    But that's the point of cask, is that it's served at cellar temp, rather than fridge temp; it's naturally carbed, rather than force carbed, so it's lower carb; and it's gravity or pump served rather than CO2 pressure forcing it, so it gets that air. (cask breathers allowing CO2 in instead of air is a different story - and not "real, traditional" cask.)
    The point is, a cask of beer, exposed to air as it empties, will only last 4 or 5 days |(once tapped) before it's completely oxidized and nigh-undrinkable. yeah, you CAN drink it, but it won't be enjoyable.
    |That's why home casks aren't a great idea unless they're planned to be finished in a couple days; even the best of us can't drink 5 gallons in 4 days. But this 5-liter BiB does seem like a good compromise - a solid long weekend you should be able to do it solo.
     
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  31. TheBungyo

    TheBungyo Champion (812) Dec 1, 2004 Washington

    My wife and I consumed them over the course of about 3 days and I stored it in the fridge when not drinking it. Carbonation definitely took a hit after the first day but remained more than drinkable. As Marquis pointed out, you don't have the benefit of introducing oxygen so you lose the complexity that cask develops over time, but despite that, I found this an exceptional way to enjoy British style beers.
    I live about an hour and a half from Machine House so I can't drive over and buy these any time I want, but if I were closer these would be mainstays in my fridge. I should also add that Bill, the brewer at Machine House, has quite a bit of knowledge when it comes to cask and he worked for some time at figuring how to properly condition these bag in box vessels before selling them. I think knowledge will factor in with other breweries as well.
     
  32. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    the F&M Dark Mild is 3.5% abv. https://www.instagram.com/p/CJCOy3DFaIQ/

    They regularly brew lower alcohol beers that are very tasty.
     
  33. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,525) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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  34. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (848) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    FM makes great beers. Their English style beers are really flavorful and low ABV.

    Im in for this bag o beer if I can get one. I ordered delivery this summer and was very happy with all the beers, even the IPA. Unfortunately he beers are sold out the last few times I wanted to place an order.

    Any idea what the cost of the bag was?

    Enjoy
     
  35. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,240) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    It was $35 for 5 Liters. The same beer is $16 for a 4-pack of pint cans, so only a slight discount for the bag/box, as the equivalent volume in cans would be $40.
     
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  36. AWA

    AWA Disciple (320) Jul 22, 2014 California

    Why do I feel so deprived by never having beer from a bag? Clearly my life went south somewhere.
     
  37. Providence

    Providence Crusader (715) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
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    That’s fantastic! Wish I could get that here.
     
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  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,881) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Well, you can rectify that if you are so motivated:

    [​IMG]
     
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  39. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,663) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Didn’t you contradict yourself with these two sentences?
     
  40. AWA

    AWA Disciple (320) Jul 22, 2014 California

    On it.
     
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