Hows does Bottle Conditioned Ale compare to Cask?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Warwick7, Aug 16, 2020.

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  1. Warwick7

    Warwick7 Initiate (70) May 25, 2019 Maryland

    How do you all feel about bottle conditioning? Do you think it just like forced Co2 or do you love it and its Real Ale just as much as Cask is?

    I haven't had BC in awhile as I perfer cans, so I dont have to worry about breaking the vessel if I drop it. My memory of BC was that it was just the same taste wise as forced co2.

    I found some great Ales yestarday and as someone who loves low Abv English Styles.
    I had Cooper Pale Ale and to my awe I found Chimay Doree in a 750ml and it was glorious. I also had Westmalle which was incredible and Im hoping to find Spencer Imperial Stout today.

    They felt easier to drink then forced co2 and the mouth feel is better. Although id have to compare more. I plan on drinking more cask but while my local seems to have cask regularly its not in constant rotation and dont always want whats on.
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I homebrew (456 batches so far) and I choose to bottle condition my beers. One of the reasons I choose to bottle condition is that it creates superior mouthfeel to the beer IMO. I personally value this aspect of mouthfeel.

    There are other benefits to bottle conditioning beyond mouthfeel but that is a topic for another thread.

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  3. Warwick7

    Warwick7 Initiate (70) May 25, 2019 Maryland

    Great I was hoping there was a significant difference. I just had Spencer Trappist Imperial Stout and its ine of the greatest Ales Ive ever had.
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  4. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (469) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Bottle conditioning is great - lots of benefits when compared to force carb - but don’t expect it to provide anything close to the experience of a properly cellered/conditioned/maintained cask ale. Cask is more than just a method of carbonating beer...and can actually provide several distinct flavor/mouthfeel profiles during the 4-6 days that the beer is typically served after venting/being exposed to O2. Good luck finding a decent cask ale anywhere but a few places in the US currently. C19 has take a niche US phenomena to near extinction levels. :beers:
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  5. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,059) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Bottle conditioning as a stand-alone thing is great.

    If you’re talking about bottle-conditioned vs cask versions of the same beer (presumably low-ABV UK beers you appear to favour), then yeah there’s a bit of a gap. An analogy would be reheated leftovers from your favourite restaurant vs eating the food fresh at the place. The former definitely scratches an itch and is enjoyable, but doesn’t quite compare.
  6. marquis

    marquis Champion (812) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Yes, what is not widely appreciated is the role played by oxygen. Brewers of bottled, canned and keg beer quite rightly go to great lengths to keep oxygen away from their beers. Rightly because oxygen is a major cause of spoilage over time.
    But when present in small quantities over a limited length of time, oxygen will transform beer, it evolves enhanced flavour levels and complexity. All at a price though, which is a drastically shortened shelf life.
  7. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (5,515) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    I would love it if all "craft" brewers in the US would at least bottle condition. Will always love Sierra Nevada for that. On top of which, cask served correctly is as good as listening to Sketches of Spain :slight_smile:
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  8. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,571) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Isn't Sketches of Spain more akin to shooters of Scotch, while Kind of Blue more smooth and mellow like Cask Ale? :wink:
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  9. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (5,515) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    Ha maybe, just in terms of my enjoyment both will work in this scenario.

    Though, I have always thought of cask as an acquired taste, specifically in the US, which fits with Sketches better IMO :slight_smile:
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  10. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,571) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    That could very well be a good comparison, although I had a harder time with SoS than London cask ale. :slight_smile:
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  11. moodenba

    moodenba Defender (601) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    Several differences between cask and bottle conditioned beer are mentioned above. I think the biggest difference is in the aging process. Cask ale is generally served fresh (but see recent posts about British cask ale service of a century ago in!!). Bottle conditioning can take place over months. In the early days of bottled Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I perceived a more highly attenuated product than I was expecting. I can almost simulate a cask experience by allowing a growler to lose some carbonation, then drink the beer at 50F. Another comment on bottle conditioning. The yeast in the bottle tends to bind up oxygen, and thus prolong shelf life. This was probably an important benefit in the early days of craft brewing, where sophisticated bottling techniques were usually beyond reach.
  12. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (12,249) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    If not mistaken I believe Deschutes Bachelor Bitter was bottled conditioned. That was a favorite & it held up well even when shipped to Hawaii
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  13. Chipotle

    Chipotle Aspirant (204) Apr 23, 2017 New York

    When Really Old Brown Dog transitioned away from bottle conditioning I felt a little disappointed though I'm not sure if I could tell the difference in a blind test. Somehow having a "best by" date on a beer that I liked to age seemed wrong. Now they don't brew it at all. It was one of my favorite brews.
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  14. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (8,224) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    To me, the oxidation of certain beers are definitely an enhancement over a long period of time. Talking aboot Thomas Hardy and JW Lees specifically but not exclusively.
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  15. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (469) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Cask oxidation - occurring over just a few days - is very different from the slow oxidation that occurs w/ a high abv barleywine over years or decades. Personally - I have yet to observe oxidation associated with long term aging to be an improvement over the base beer.
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