UTICA — Cask ale, compared to traditional beer, is all natural — in fact, the style of brewing predates refrigeration.
The state-wide crafting of cask ale was celebrated Saturday at the third annual New York State Cask Ale Festival at Woodland Farm Brewery. Despite a cold rain and a muddy lawn for festivities, cask ale fans sipped the beverages under tents on the brewery's lawn.
“The main goal is to promote the idea of cask ale and New York state breweries that are doing cask ales,” said Keith Redhead, owner of Woodland Brewery. “Where else can you get all those beers at one time other than this?”
Cask ale differs from traditional beer in how it is created. The liquid finishes fermentation in a vessel, Redhead said, which means it has a natural carbonation instead of C02.
Similarly, it is poured out of a container either by a hand pump or through gravity, instead of a keg, which pushes beer through a tube with CO2.
The taste, he said, pops more, in addition to having a different texture in your mouth.
All of the 16 breweries featured at the event were from the state of New York, Redhead added. Many of them were from Oneida County, such as Copper City Brewing, which has a storefront in Rome.
“Definitely the atmosphere, the love of beer,” said Steven Edwards, when asked why Copper City came back for a second year.
And when asked if the weather deterred anyone from trying out the ales?
“Any weather is good beer drinking weather,” he added.
Indeed, many people were wearing boots and jackets as they walked between the breweries. But the opportunity — the rarity — of sampling this many ales is unusual, said Holly Lee, who visited from Lafayette.
“There’s always a lot of brew fests around, but this one is cask ale, which is a different type of tasting,” she said. “It interested me because I like cask ale beers, and I wanted to come out and try them from a lot of different breweries.”
Ales aren’t typically on tap at most bars or restaurants — or if they are, there’s typically only one.
“I’d like to try as many as I can,” she added. “To come and have all these different cask ales to try is special.”
Contact reporter Joseph Labernik at 315-792-4995 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Labernik).