If you find yourself looking for something to do mid-week you may want to consider a trip to Barley John’s—located just north of the Twin Cities—for their Wednesday Cask Offerings. Upon taking the position at the brewpub, head brewer Brian Lonberg decided to bring the Cask Ale program back in order to experiment with ingredients and different yeast strains.
What is Cask Ale? “Cask ale is often called ‘real ale’ in the UK” said Brian. “It is beer that has been fermented fully, aged, and then primed with either raw wort (unfermented beer) or sugar, and allowed to referment in the cask from which it will be served.” Cask Ale is generally harder to find at local bars here in the United States and is more common in Europe.
When explaining the difference between Cask Ale and Draft Beer Brian said, “Most all draft beer in the United States is 'force carbonated.' This is what you see on draft. That means that the naturally occurring CO2 from the fermentation process is allowed to escape. The beer is then chilled to a point where the yeast drop out of suspension from the beer. The beer than can be further filtered, and even pasteurized for stability during delivery.” One way to think of it is that Cask Ale is alive with yeast cells and Draft beer as dead because the live yeast cells have been filtered out and/or pasteurized.
Brian, a chef at heart, often likes to experiment with different hop blends and oddball ingredients such as chili peppers, herbs and spices, wood, and fruit. His first recipe, Kaffir Lime Pale Ale was a big hit at Winterfest and
his [Correction; his predecessor Colin's] version of Dark Knight took home the coveted Snowshoe Award.
Some of the previous varieties of Cask Ale offered at Barley John’s were Old Eight Porter with Fair Trade Coffee, Wild Brunette with Earl Grey Tea, Pumpkin Ale with Chipotle Peppers, and Northern English Ale with Cranberries. So what can you expect in the coming weeks? According to Brian, “Next week is going to be our Little Barley Bitter dry hopped with Palisade Hops. In the next couple of weeks you'll see our Old Eight Porter with Cacao Nibs, and our Stockyard IPA with Sriracha (the Vietnamese Chili Sauce).” These styles are more likely to be found at a homebrew meeting than in a liquor store which is why you should support your local brewpub.
If you don’t have any plans for St. Patrick’s Day you may want to consider the short trek to New Brighton to try their Oatmeal Irish Stout fermented with the Guinness Yeast Strain. I’m sure it will taste much better than any of the standard “green beer” beer you will find at most drinking establishments that night.
Barley John’s also offers a full food menu chock full of everything from flat bread pizzas and appetizers to sandwiches and entrees; and they even have their own vegetable garden onsite. Their hours of operation are Monday–Saturday 11 AM to 1 AM.