Long it to London: Cask 2019 | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Long it to London: Cask 2019

According to the rather sweary youth on our train, we gather that to "long it" is to spend a period of time travelling to somewhere a fair distance away. For him, this meant travelling to the legendary brewing town of Burton (we reckon not for the beer), which was somewhat fitting for us, who were headed to London for a day of drinking at Cask 2019 - a festival now in it's second year dedicated to serving and celebrating beer from cask only.


We LOVE this as a concept. Cask has so frequently at modern beer festivals been considered as almost an afterthought, seen as a "cheaper" product not worth the hassle of set up and regarded as outdated (we know we're oversimplifying things here, but we want to talk festival not beer politics), all things which organisers Affinity Brew Co aimed to overturn. And we reckon that for, the most part, they massively succeeded.

We all know that cask is being lauded as making a bit of a comeback at the moment (although personally we're not sure it ever really went anywhere in the first place), with breweries such as Cloudwater and Buxton adding it back into their roster after a few years of absence, and the queues outside festival venue TESTBED1 in Bermondsey certainly proved that enthusiasm for cask is truly alive and well.


The venue itself was an odd one - we're of the understanding that Cask was the first large event to be held there (but please do correct us if we're wrong in this). It was an interesting space, described unhelpfully on their Twitter account as "a place for testing", an ex-dairy warehouse in a railway arch. A bit on the damp side, with limited seating and even less in the way of natural light (hence lack of photos!), with the one bar located right at the end of a long and narrow archway, it didn't scream beer festival... but the atmosphere more than made it for it. We had a fantastic afternoon of both catching up with old friends and putting names to twitter handles. The festival staff were faultless throughout, with speedy and friendly service at the bar and security doing a sterling job of stopping people forming a ridiculous single file queue which snaked around the building.

The majority of beers we drank on the day were good, with a few being exceptional... we're looking at you, Brussels Beer Project "Black Swan" - a 9.9% Blackberry Baltic Porter which was in absolute top nick. The Little Earth Project "Stupid Sexy Suffolk" (6.5%) was tasting absolutely incredible as well: flinging flavour to the face, balanced, fruity and acetic with just the right level of astringency in the finish. The Partizan Lager was a very pleasant surprise, and we were smacking our lips at the first cask in existence of Fyne Ales "Deathbed", a 9.5% dark Scotch Ale which we collectively described as liquid Soreen.


However, although it was clear that the casks had been well cared for, there were a few beers that could have done with a little more condition, and we'd love to see some Angrams coming out to play. We did also find ourselves commenting on occasion that some of the beers on offer were clearly better suited to being cold and fizzy. Don't get us wrong, the variety was excellent, and it was obvious that the breweries involved had largely endeavoured to send something exciting and genre-defying, which is great, but we were definitely drawn to the pintable, more straightforward brews that work so well in cask (well done Boxcar for sending a 3.4% Dark Mild - it was exactly what it purported to be and one of our beers of the day).

Overall, we had a great day... as much to do with the company we were in as well as the beer, but hey, in the words of the great Garrett Oliver, "beer is people" and Cask 2019 certainly brought that to life for us. It's about time cask beer had a turn in the spotlight and kudos to Affinity for allowing it to shine. Well worth the trip down to the big smoke, and a festival that's firmly on our beer calendar.


Cheers!

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