Saturday, 1 May 2010

Marston's Fast Cask spreads

Marston's new Fast Cask system for storing cask beer will be used in every Piano & Pitcher bar along with any other sites that take the brewery's new EPA brand. Fast Cask employs "yeast beads" that drop straight to the bottom of casks but allow a normal secondary fermentation to take place. The system was launched during Cask Ale Week in March. Justin Wray of Marston's said the system had been well received. "CAMRA's endorsement -- or at least a lack of opposition to it -- has been really good news for us."
As reported exlusively on, the concept allows beer to "drop bright" almost immediately, which means it can be served from upright casks in bars or pubs that do not have conventional cellars. Fast Cask removes the problem of casks being knocked and having to wait for several hours for it drop bright again.
The system is being rolled out to Pitcher & Piano sites as a programme of refurbishments for the bars is completed. "We've also had pubs in the free trade signing up for Fast Cask and these are pubs that have never had cask ale before," Wray added.
Fast cask was initially available for two beers: Marston's Pedigree and Wychwood Hobgoblin but it's now also available for Marston's EPA, which was launched on St George's Day.
"EPA is a new product and it will only be avilable using Fast Cask, whereas the other brands are also available in conventional form," Wray said. "As a result, we think it should be a lot easier to encourage trials of Fast Cask via EPA."


Blogger MicMac said...

Roger, I'm curious - how do they separate out the yeast from the beer's fermentation to replace it with the 'yeast beads' - cold-sedimentation? filtration? centrifuging?

Surely some of these methods would not sit well with a definition of traditional cask beer production?

Mike McG
(ex-Betwixt Beer Co, Birkenhead)

5 May 2010 at 23:23  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

The beer is filtered then re-seeded with the beads. Tests by CAMRA's technical bods show that a natural secondary fermentation takes place.

6 May 2010 at 15:29  
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8 May 2010 at 12:41  
Anonymous Lesta said...

The brewery may not need to filter the ale- it could be bright beer that's settled in a tank with a conical bottom for drawing off yeast. Fastcask opens many doors for real ale (cask if you will) in the United States where the expertise in handling firkins is often nil. The yeast will not leach from the beads in any significant way, and the beads will sink quickly to carbonate the ale.

11 May 2010 at 15:16  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

No, it's not bright beer. The beer is made in the usual fashion for cask-conditioned ale, it's filtered following fermentation and re-seeded with fresh yeast in the shape of the beads. You're right -- this could make cask-conditioned beer much easier to handle in countries such as the U.S. where bars have little or no experience of the style.

14 May 2010 at 19:49  
Blogger DJ said...

I had a few pints of Fast Cask Marstons EPA at the weekend and was very satisfied with the product, I have reviewd it here:

17 May 2010 at 15:40  
Blogger MicMac said...

Apologies for slow reply on this Roger. I must have missed your reply.

My feeling on this is that filtration itself (of almost any kind, but especially 'sterile filtration' - c.0.45microns) removes flavour, texture & colour from any beer - to say that FastCask is CAMRA-kosher because it has 2ndary fermentation in cask ignores this entirely.

I am left a bit confused by what I see as inconsistencies in CAMRA's stance on some recent technical matters.

E.g. most CAMRA Champ Bottled Beers of Britain winners have almost certainly undergone sterile filtration (before being reseeded with fresh yeast). Then there is also the strange debate/confusion over the CAMRA/real ale status of Thornbridge's (by all accounts wonderful) & entirely unfiltered, though perhaps not bottle-carbonated beers!

Generally in my experience as a brewer & drinker, the less you mess about with a good beer, the better, but CAMRA's approval of both FastCask & sterile-filtered RAIBs is very much at odds with my perspective & I feel also at odds the ethos that founded the organisation.

11 October 2010 at 14:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that this is more dumbing down of a product with the net result in loss of skilled/talented publicans, reduced quality beer and a conned public! What's wrong with training to do the job properly and keep that quality we are all so proud of.
If you don't know how to keep cask ale you shouldn't be doing it!

11 October 2010 at 17:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will this outstanding innovation be brought over here to the heathens in the US?

24 October 2010 at 12:50  
Anonymous Barm said...

To me, centrifuged bright beer is "realer" ale than beer that's been filtered and reseeded with yeast beads, even if the latter technically complies with the letter of CAMRA's definition (as it has so obviously been designed to do). Real ale should be about processing the beer as little as possible.

28 October 2010 at 23:29  
Blogger PaulO said...

Surely the thing that's really important isn't whether Process A or Process B has been used to create / serve the beer. And (sadly) it's not even whether it needs skill to keep / serve the beer. The ONLY thing that matters is the quality of the end product - the stuff in the pint glass.

From my own experience of FastCask (and indeed from various reviews I've read online), the quality is right up there. Perhaps not as good as the very best cellared beers, but not far behind at all, and certainly better than you'll find in 95% of 'chain' pubs.

If it's good in the glass then whether it's been centrifuged, filtered, or whatever really shouldn't matter. All the technical analysis takes the fun out it, and spoils the enjoyment of a great British product.

Just close your eyes, open your mind, and enjoy the bloody beer!

29 October 2010 at 12:13  
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Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Its not real traditional ale is it. Its being messed about with. I would not knowingly drink it out of choice. If it gives more choice and is clerly labeled on what it is then fine. Pepole can choose if they wish. If it was a choice between this and keg beer i would try it.But beware it could be another atempt to kill off real ale

5 May 2011 at 08:32  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

I think it is of concern that Mr Protz has not been more critical of it.

5 May 2011 at 08:34  
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