WHAT IS CASK ALE ANYWAY?
Cask-conditioned ale is a tip of the hat to the early days of brewing. The term suggests that the beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated (not riddled with CO2 pumped through draft lines). This living ale is matured and served directly from the same cask and must be consumed within a few days. For those with an affinity for all things homegrown, the shelf life of this product almost ensures it’s produced and consumed locally. The ale may appear cloudy, but not to worry, this is simply because it contains live yeast. Interestingly enough, from tap to tongue, your brew is still freshly fermenting.
WHERE CAN I SEE WHAT ALL THE RAGE IS ABOUT?
A growing number of bars and pubs in Toronto are offering a taste of this throwback beer. Here are five spots and a festival to get you started:
VOLO | 587 Yonge Street
You can catch a rotating list of bevvies on their site under the ‘Taps & Casks’ tab. Around since 1985, this family owned and operated establishment will have you coming for the cask, but staying for the charm!
BAR HOP | 391 King Street West
This King West pub offers a selection of 36 craft beers and 2 rotating selections of cask ale. Why not visit on one of their Session Sundays where $5 pints are featured on select Ontario Craft Brews?
VICTORY CAFÉ | 581 Markham Street
Known to locals as The Vic, this quaint and cozy pub has been serving The Annex for over 15 years. Enjoy a pint of up to three rotating casks and maybe even catch a poetry reading or trivia night!
C’EST WHAT | 67 Front Street East
Located in Old Town, this inviting locale not only offers the best in comfort food, but boasts an impressive selection of eight cask ales.
CASTRO’S LOUNGE | 2116e Queen Street East
Tucked in the Beach neighbourhood of East Toronto, you might be able to catch a live act while chowing down on some vegetarian nosh and sipping on one of four cask handpumps.
$5 casks ales all day today… Cheers! pic.twitter.com/DQNJLKq9EB
— Castros Lounge (@CastrosLounge) March 8, 2015
CASK DAYS | Evergreen Brickworks, 2015 Dates TBD
As a sign of its growing popularity, a once Toronto-based event called Cask Days has now expanded across the province since it began in 2005. The three-day festival, which usually takes place in October, features hundreds of cask ales and brings together thousands. What is quickly becoming the best beer festival in the city is the brainchild of the owners of Bar Volo.
Interested in learning more? CASK! is a group of individuals dedicated to raising awareness around cask ale and, ultimately, increasing availability across the province. Check out one of their local, monthly socials at bars around the city.
Another great way to find out what local bars and brewers are offering in the way of cask ale, follow #OnCask.