Cask ale is tied to many great traditions and traditional beer styles, but the way in which it can enhance subtle flavors, develop wonderful soft aromas, and kick with a deep hop flavor and bitterness means that it translates perfectly into new beer styles—and perhaps the only new British beer style created in the past decade is the “pale and hoppy session beer.”
Light-colored, well-hopped sessionable ales have existed for many years, but the difference here is the use of New World hops, primarily from America, Australia, and New Zealand. The citrusy, fruity aromas from those hops can be enhanced by cask in a way that keg simply cannot replicate: there’s a delicate, zingy liveliness that a keg kills. It’s also something that’s only properly present when the cask has been very well looked after.
British Traditions And New World Accents Photo Gallery
Hawkshead Brewery’s Windermere Pale is just 3.5% ABV, but you’d never believe that from its depth of flavor. Wonderful toasty, chewy
malts and a big aroma of tropical, peachy, grapefruit-y hops make this a world-class beer. Hawkshead’s Beer Hall is a must-visit place to go and drink their beers.
Bristol’s Moor Beer Co. takes ultra-pale beers and fills them with a big hop aroma and depth of flavor. Being unfined and unfiltered, they are often lightly hazy, which adds to their texture and flavor, and you should look for Revival as being the best of their pale and hoppies.
Burning Sky’s Plateau is a light, bright golden beer that’s zingy and zesty with American and New Zealand hops. It’s fresh and fruity; there’s a nice little roundness of malt in the middle, then it ends really dry and bitter. It’s a perfect example of this type of beer by one of the top brewers in the country.
The best cask ales can be thrilling to drink and the use of the juiciest and fruitiest New World hops gives classic beer styles an electrifying quality that’s only found in British ales. The trend toward Session IPAs, which can surely look to these beers as the original iteration, makes you realize that they’re thundering thrash metal compared to the elegant symphony of the best pale and hoppy session ales served from the cask.
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