Let me paint a picture for you. You walk into your favorite drinking establishment, sit down at an old, worn oak bar and order a draft beer. The bartender reaches for a glass, positions it under one of the many tap handles and you watch as she pulls back the handle to fill your glass with a bright golden lager topped with a crown of frothy foam. Often filtered and pasteurized, today’s draft beer uses carbon dioxide to travel through a series of kegs, tubing, and faucets until it can be dispensed into a glass. While we may take this system and experience for granted, draft beer is a relatively new invention dating back to the early twentieth century. Given that we’ve been brewing beer for thousands of years, how did we manage to serve beer without a draft system? The answer is with a barrel or cask.
A simpler method, brewers often filled barrels or casks with kellerbier (literally “cellar beer”) – a fresh, unfiltered and unpasteurized beer straight from the fermentation cellar. A barrel or cask features a hole (often called a bunghole) and tap at the bottom of the vessel for dispensing, and an air vent at the top to ensure proper flow. Once a barrel or cask is tapped, the perishable beer begins a natural process of degassing, which slowly lowers the carbonation of the beer. Combined with a gravity-fed method of dispensing, bartenders are able to pour an exceptionally smooth beer that cannot be recreated using a draft beer system.
We love the tradition and authenticity of serving beer this way and want to share this experience with our beer-loving patrons. So, every Tuesday night, we’re going old-school by tapping a wooden-clad cask with kellerbier, packaged straight from our fermentation cellar. This unfiltered variation imparts subtle flavors of fresh yeast and grain, supported by bright, rustic hop aromas that enliven the young beer. Served in traditional ceramic steins, our cask beer rotates weekly with what is available in our beer cellar.
If you’re up for experiencing one of your favorite East Rock beers in a new way, we hope you consider trying kellerbier served from one of our wooden-clad barrels. It’s a traditional and authentic experience that is hard to find outside of Germany – and made with lots of pride from the brewing team at East Rock.