David | Blog | March, 09 2010 | No Comment


It was a great weekend for beer in Chicago, even if you only went to one event, as I did. Of course, that event would have to have been the Day of the Living Ales/Night of the Living Ales, presented by the Chicago Beer Society. More than 500 enthusiasts attended the two sessions to sample from 43 casks.

For my cheese friends some brief background is in order. Cask conditioning refers to the the storing and serving practices that are essential to British ale tradition. The beer is unfiltered, so living yeasts remain at work in the serving vessel (the cask), creating a subtle, natural carbonation. In comparison most kegged beer is filtered and carbonated with CO2. Cask beers are still alive and must be cared for once they are at the pub, the same way real living cheeses have to be cared for by the cheesemonger. Cask ales are traditionally served at cellar temperature (around 50-55 degrees F) through a gravity-fed faucet or a hand pump. The technique has been embraced just enough by American beer geeks to have become a significant niche for many U.S. craft brewers.

The  DotLa/NotLa event was built on the foundation of the storied Real Ale Festival which was organized by Ray Daniels and the Craft Beer Institute beginning in 1996. The current volunteers include many of the same cellermen and servers who made R.A.F. such a great annual event through the early aughts. I try to never miss DotLa/NotLa, and if you know that you will be in Chicago in March you too should make plans to attend. There is always a bite to eat with the beers, and that always includes an excellent cheese sampling, this year from Marion Street Cheese Market.
Congrats to those brewers whose products were favored by all the attendees, and to Three Floyds, for getting a nod from the cellermen. You can read more about the event and the recipients at the beer society site.

Stay tuned for more news from Chicago in coming weeks. We’re hosting the Craft Brewers Conference in a few weeks and Stone Brewing will make a bit splash that week as it enters the Windy City market for the first time.


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