In the craft beer landscape, cask beer is hallowed ground. It’s where brewers page to the back of their brew books to find yellowed handwritten recipes passed down over years. It’s where experimentation runs rampant and caution is thrown to the wind. It’s where legends are honored and new legends are made. And the Washington Cask Beer Festival on Saturday, March 30th is where beer enthusiasts go to taste something they’ve never tried before, something that may never be made quite the same way again.
Cask-conditioned beer means natural fermentation in hulking heavy-wood vessels, without pasteurization, filtration or artificial carbonation. This lack of standardization means unique, single-batch brews and the near-impossibility of achieving the same result twice. Brewers embrace the precariousness of cask brewing by taking big risks: adding unusual hops, fruits, or Junior Mints. There’s less to drink if there’s a mistake, but also less to drink if there’s not. And given the lineup of legends cask-brewing this year, results are much more likely to tend toward success.
Even more important than experimentation is tradition. In a fast-growing beer scene debuting a new brewery every other week, the Cask Beer Festival stands out because it harkens back to generations past. Brewers pay homage to their forefathers with tastes and techniques they’ve kept family secrets. That’s why Cask Fest tickets sell out so fast: once this year’s results are gone, they’re gone. Get them here for $40, and don’t bet on waiting to buy at the door. The festival is the only place to try Herbert’s Legendary Cask Festival Ale, a yearly collaborative tribute to Washington beer great Bert Grant. If you truly love beer, this is a taste of tradition you won’t want to miss.
Saturday, March 30 || Session 1: 12:00—4:00 pm, session 2: 6:00—10:00 pm || Tickets: $40/advance, $45/door (if available) || Seattle Center Exhibition Hall || 305 Harrison Street, Seattle