Advice needed for ale cask at home!


cask1Hello all,

It’s my 30th birthday party on Saturday and I decided to lubricate the proceedings with a cask of quality ale!

My girlfriend works in a bar where they sometimes serve cask ale and so I thought we knew what we were doing – unfortunately after quite a bit of reading and research I’ve realised there is a huge difference between the smaller casks they serve from and the 9-gallon Firkin currently sat in my kitchen… So I’m in urgent need of advice to avoid spoiling this sizeable quantity of tasty beer.

The casks my girlfriend deals with can apparently be stillaged, tapped and spiled the day before serving, so apparently they are pre-filtered or some kind of FastCask type product. I’ve been reading a number of sources including this website and I’m finding some of the information is contradictory and leaves me with more questions than answers!

We bought the cask direct from a brewery and transported it home yesterday. On one website I’ve read that “casks must be vented within 8 hours of delivery”. Is this true and why would this be so – I would have thought that this would ruin the ale since it will only last 3 days once the cask is broached?

Currently my plan is as follows:
– Today I will stillage the cask in our kitchen where the temperature is around 10-11 degrees C which I realise is just under optimal but it’s the nearest I could find in the house
– Tomorrow I spile with a soft peg and begin the venting process
– On Friday I will tap the cask
– On Saturday we’ll enjoy fresh beer (under gravity dispense) – am I right in removing the peg completely at this time?

Are there any problems with how I’m doing this and does anyone have any other recommendations? Obviously I’ve rushed into this a little blind and foolishly but hopefully it’ll all be worth it in the end! Advice would be urgently appreciated…

Best regards,


  1. You should be ok, stillage it level and if you tap and vent the container now with a soft peg for 24 – 48 hrs, when it has cleared down draw off half a pint through the tap to check there is no haze. Then hard peg it till it is ready to use. If the temperature is lower then this process will take a bit longer. Once you have hard pegged the container it is sealed. Loosen the peg when you want to draw off, it is now you have three days to use it up. The information on this site should be correct. Hope that puts your mind to rest.

  2. If you want some one to one advice Inndoctor could arrange a personal visit to sample and make sure the beer is up to spec. This is all bart of our dedicated selfless service. Joking apart the info Maverick gave you is spot on. Enjoy your party.

  3. Agreed with what has been said so far. To keep the cask protected from some of the temperature changes especially when there will be a lot of bodies in the kitchen drawing off ale, get some old towels and soak them in cold water, wring out so they are sodden rather than sopping and place over your cask. Have the cask tilted slightly no more than 5 degrees and also have plenty of dry towels or old newspapers about to soak up any water which does drip. This way should there be any ale (hahaha :)) left you’ll have kept it closer to the same temperature throughout service so you may end up with a couple more days to drink the residue.

    The venting within 8 hours of delivery seems to vary between brewers, but I can assure you that I have had sealed real ale casks in my own cellar for more than 7 days without being vented. I guess it may be due to the fact cask ale is a live product and there may be a gas(CO2) build up within the cask which if enough pressure is behind it could blow the keystone or shive outwards resulting in a loss of beer and/or possible injury/damage.

    I’ve had only one shive ever blow on me but the beer here had been on tap the previous day and I had put the hard peg in just a little to firmly, so there was a large build up of gas


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