Cask Beer Glossary


A beer produced by fermentation at around 18-21°C.
Also now known as cask Fresh Beer or the freshest beer on the bar.

Ale Python

A line or hose that wraps around the beer lines, through which cooled water circulates, to help regulate and control the beer temperature. Not a thirsty snake or any other kind of pub-dwelling creature…


The beautiful scent of cask fresh beer! If it isn’t, take it back to the bar and ask why.


The frustrating result of pushing that pinball machine too hard; and the metal cradle with springs that automatically tilts the cask on the rack, as the beer is dispensed.


Generally, hops add bitterness to beer and malt adds sweetness. Balance is the interplay between them.


36 gallon cask or keg beer container. Half the size of the more common Firkin.

Beer Engine

Using gorgeous beer as fuel for a machine would be madness…!

Beer Engine is the common name for the cask dispense cylinder that works by a manually activated piston, to draw beer up from the cask in the cellar.


In beer, body is something you feel rather than touch. It describes the fullness of the flavour in the mouth and the consistency of the liquid, from thin to thick.

Bottle conditioned

As with cask ale, the beer is bottled with a little of the active yeast. The beer matures in the bottle and the yeast creates a little natural carbonation.


This simply means clear. The beer that has been filtered with finings to make it look brilliant to the eye.


The round hole in the side of the cask or older style keg, through which the vessel is filled with beer, and then sealed with a bung.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

CO2 is a naturally occurring gas, produced as a by-product of fermentation. It’s what gives beer its fizz.


Carbonation refers to the level of CO2 in the beer.


Literally, the container used for holding traditionally brewed beer, hence, cask ale.

CAT Test

Clarity, Aroma and Taste test. It’s how the cellar manager checks a sample of beer in the cellar to test whether it is fully conditioned.

Chill Haze

A cloudiness in the beer due to the precipitation of proteins at low temperatures.


The maturing process by which residual sugar in the cask ale is converted to alcohol and CO2 when stillaged in the cellar. Also known as secondary fermentation.

Dry Hopped

When a brewer adds hops during, or after, fermentation to extract volatile aroma compounds rather than bitterness. Expect to see on cans “DDH,” “TDH” or even “QDH,” for double-, triple-, or quadruple-dry-hopped, respectively.


The magical process where the yeast digests the wort sugars, and converting them into alcohol and CO2 gas.


The general term for substances added to some cask ales at, or near, the end of the brewing process to aid the settling and clarification of the beer. The finings give the yeast something to clump around so it settled and sinks to the bottom of the cask faster.


A measure of beer, 72 pints to be exact. Also, the name given to the vessel that holds that amount and the most common size used in pubs.

Fresh Hopped or Green Hopped

Fresh hop or green hop refers to beer brewed in late summer using hops that are fresh off the bine and have not been dried or processed. Think spicy grass and earthy aromas.


A growler is a container used to transport beer, usually from the pub or the brewery, to home. Growlers come in lots of sizes but 64oz is common, that’s 1.89 litres or 3.3 pints.


Beer with a cloudy appearance that you can’t see through. Hazy beers are intentionally so, they’re unfined and are a way for brewers to experiment with different flavours and approaches. If the beer isn’t meant to be hazy, your nose will probably let you know…


Hoppy beers are most likely to be the ones with more bitter flavours, along with some fruity and floral aromas.


International Bittering Units are a measure of the bitterness of beer in parts per million.

The scale goes from 0 and upwards, but beyond 120, the human tongue can’t taste any more bitterness.


A form of collagen, obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, used as a beer fining to clarify the beer. Obviously, beer that uses isinglass isn’t vegan or veggie.


Juicy is most often used to describe beers that have a fruity aroma and taste, citrus or stone fruits. The flavours and aromas are predominantly driven from the hops.


Malt provides the sugar source that yeasts use to convert into alcohol and also impart colour and flavour on to the final beer. Darker roasted malts tend to give dark colours and roasted flavours (think coffee, bitter chocolate, dark fruits or liquorice). Lighter roasted malts give a flavour that’s more grainy, biscuity, nutty, or bready flavours like caramel, toffee or raisin.

Milk stout

Milk stout is a stout containing lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose cannot be fermented by beer yeast, it adds sweetness and perceived body to the finished beer.


Ninkasi was the Mesopotamian goddess of beer and brewing. The Hymn to Ninkasi is a poetic recipe for beer dating back to 1800BC!


A lighter, lower-ABV beer, you can have a few of in a single session.

Secondary Fermentation

Also known as cask conditioning, it’s the process in which a draught beer retains yeast to enable a secondary fermentation to take place in a cask in the pub cellar.


A spile is a small wooden or metal peg used to vent or control the flow of air into, and carbon dioxide out of, a cask of ale.


Stillaging is the process where the casks are stored in the pubs cellar on their side, on a slanted rack, with the rear of the cask slightly elevated. This allows the yeast to sink to the bottom and separates it from the beer being served.


After giving the beer time to condition, the cask can be tapped (where a tap is added to the cask, for connection to the beer lines). Before the beer can be hooked up and served from the bar, the cellar manager samples the beer to carry out the CAT test.


Temperature is a crucial part of brewing and serving cask ale. Different ale yeasts perform best at very specific temperature, usually around 20°C but that varies from strain to strain. The recommended serve temperature for the majority of cask ales is a cellar cool 11 – 13°C.

Tulip glass

Glassware with a wider bottom and narrow top makes it easier to notice the aromas. A tulip shaped beer glass helps the drinker enjoy more of the aroma and flavour of cask fresh beer, in the same way you’d enjoy fine wine, brandy or whisky.


After being stillaged, a small wooden peg or spile is hammered into the shive covering the vent on the side of the cask. The spile then allows the cellar manager to release some of the naturally occurring C02 from the cask as part of the beer conditioning stage.


The bittersweet sugar solution is the liquid extracted from mashing the malt and boiling the hops. It becomes beer, through fermentation.


When the brewers yeast is added to the wort, it eats the sugar, creating alcohol and carbonation. Cask ale typically uses the same top-fermenting yeast that was used in brewing over 3000 years ago.! Top-fermenting means the yeast likes to rise to the top of the beer as it eats.


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