Tag Archives: cask ale

What If They Threw A Cask Festival, and EVERYBODY Came???

victorywinterThe Victory Café held their much anticipated Winter Cask Ale Festival this past Saturday, and as others have noted, it was a huge success. Perhaps too huge, as the 13 casks were drained by 5:00 PM, 2 hours before the event was supposed to end.

But hey, who can complain? Well, people who showed up late, I guess. But if you got there earlier, there was plenty of good beer, great food, and, uh, nowhere to sit if you arrived after 12:30. Luckily, the wife and I made our entrance a few minutes before that and snagged one of the few remaining spots on the second floor, which made for a somewhat anti-social outing given that most of our friends were on the main floor, but meh, I can hang out with those bastards any time.

My drinking concentrated mainly on the exclusive and first-time beers that were available, and while nothing completely blew my socks off, there were a couple of very solid efforts. County Durham Red Dragon was an interesting one, with a more earthy and chocolatey character than the amber colour suggested, and I really enjoyed the Neustadt 180 Lager, although I think the light body and green tea notes make it a better summer refresher than a winter beer. (Given that the 180 refers to the number of days it’s aged, they’d best be brewing a batch right now so I can enjoy it in July…)

The kitchen did a great job as well, with three different warm and hearty dishes to choose from. I didn’t try the beef stew, but the chicken curry was excellent, and the veggie stew was quite good as well. I’ve also been impressed by the last couple of meals I’ve had from the regular menu – it’s fairly standard pub fare, but they’ve been doing more in terms of using fresh ingredients, which makes a big difference.

It was obvious that the folks at the Victory didn’t expect such a big turnout. Their previous cask event, held on the patio on a beautiful summer day, brought in less than 100, so who would’ve thought they’d reach capacity and have line-ups in the middle of the winter? As great as it is to have a casual, pay-at-the-door event, they may need to look at doing advance ticket sales for future events.

Kudos and congrats to the Victory, the brewers and everyone else involved for their success.

[Photo nicked from my pal, Alan Daly]

Stuff & Things

One of the results of my unintended hiatus from blogging during August through October was that my inbox filled up with assorted blurbs and announcements that I might’ve posted about, had I had the time.

It’s obviously too late to do much with the more time-sensitive stuff, but while doing some email clean-up and sorting today, I came across a few things that are still worth mentioning:

  • I expect that most of you will have already heard about this, as it’s been all over the beer blogs and magazines for months now, but in case you’ve somehow missed it: One of North America’s top drink writers, Rick Lyke, was successfully treated for prostate cancer early this year. Following his recovery, he launched Pints For Prostates, a campaign to raise awareness of PSA testing, one of the best ways for prostate cancer to be detected before it’s too late. Since my day job is with Cancer Care Ontario, I know how many men are affected by prostate cancer, and important it is to get tested, so I’m more than happy to support the cause.
  • Joe Redner at Cigar City Brewing, a soon-to-open microbrewery down in Tampa, emailed a while back to let me about their blog where they’ve been documenting the entire process of getting the brewery together. I finally spent some time poking through the blog this weekend, and it’s a pretty fascinating journey they’ve been on. Hope I’ll be able to get my hands on some of their brews when they open (which should be before the end of the year by the looks of things).
  • Ed Westin wants me to mention California Beerzine, an online magazine that fittingly covers beers in California. I’m a bit confused by the site, as the top banner says “FIRST ISSUE” even though they launched in July and are supposed to be publishing monthly. It looks like there have been a couple of things posted in the past few months, but perhaps things aren’t going as smoothly as they had hoped? Whatever the case, the content that’s up there worth a peek.
  • They tell me that the kids today are into something called “social networking”. Which I guess explains the existance of sites like Kegerator Social Network (launched in September) and Democracy’s Drink (which recently passed the 500 member mark).
  • Joel Mayer wrote me a nice note saying that he enjoyed BBB, and inviting me to check out his blog, The Alemonger. So I did, and while he posts even less frequently than I do (I didn’t think that was possible!), what’s there is good stuff. Write more, Joel!
  • And jeez, I just realised that I never got around to mentioning CASK!, a group that came together in the summer to raise the awareness of cask ale in Toronto and surrounding area. The four founders of the group – Mirella Amato, Maz Brereton, Robert Hughey and Nick Pashley – decided that they wanted a fifth member in the core group, and I was very flattered to be asked to fill the position. Busy schedules for all of us mean that we’re still in a bit of a “getting shit together” phase, and one of our first projects – a bus festival to the upcoming Buffalo Cask Festival – had to be cancelled due to lack of interest. We did, however, pull off a successful “cask vs. keg” event at C’est What last week (although I sadly had to miss it due to a scheduling conflict), and plans are afoot for several things in the new year. Stay tuned…

Powerful Beer on a Powerless Night

I had a fun – and partly odd – time this past Tuesday night as I hit two different beer-centric happenings.

First stop was beerbistro, where they were celebrating the tapping of several Koningshoeven beers which were appearing on draught for the first time ever in Canada. (In fact, I believe this may have been the first time any Trappist beers have been available on draught in Canada.) The original plan was to feature five Koningshoeven (aka La Trappe) brews on tap – Blond, Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel and Witte – but shipping problems meant that only the latter three made it in time for the big night, so the Blond & Dubbel were there in the more commonly available bottled form. Still, it was a rare treat to get even the three, so no one was complaining.

My arrival was later than expected, and the bar area was rammed solid with a mixture of the usual after-work drinks crowd and the Trappist-thirsty beer geek contingent. Luckily, I reached the bar just as Stephen Beaumont was getting up from his stool to do a ceremonial ribbon-cutting with a rep from the brewery who had flown over for the event, so I generously offered to save his seat for him and got myself a glass of the Witte, the one beer of the five that I’d not tried before. You can check my notes on RateBeer for my full thoughts on the beer – I’ll just say here that it’s a really solid witbier, and having it on draught made it even better.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long, so I wasn’t able to sample any of the others, but I hope to make it back to try the Tripel and Quad before the kegs run dry. I was also unable to stay for the celebratory dinner, with each course paired with one of the Koningshoeven beers, but I’m sure that chef Brian Morin and his crew knocked it out of the park as they usually do with their themed dinners.

My other destination for the evening was the Mill Street Brewpub, where they were holding a semi-private event celebrating their Brewery of the Year honour awarded at the recent Canadian Brewing Awards. The mile or so walk from beerbistro to the pub was a strange one, as there was a scattered power outage that caused some blocks to be darkened while others were fine. A few minutes before I reached the Distillery District complex where the pub is located, my wife called to let me know that the whole District was in darkness, and the staff at the pub was scrambling to serve up what they could by candlelight.

Luckily, the lights came back on literally the moment that I arrived (I tried to take responsibility for the miraculous occurrence, but Sheryl was having none of it…), and we snagged a prime seat before the crowd swooped in. Fellow beer blogger Troy Burtch joined us with his lovely fiancée Jessica, as did TAPS Magazine editor Karla Dudley. The open bar tempted me to work through a few Mill Street favourites, but the cask-conditioned IPA that I started with was in such good shape that I just stuck with it for the rest of the night.

Pub staff were making the rounds with a seemingly endless assortment of hors d’oeuvres, most of which were palate-pleasing, although the flavour combo on the maple & pesto chicken wings was a bit odd. Local musical legend Big Rude Jake provided some great entertainment for a crowd that was sadly more interested in watching the Leafs lose to the Habs (again) on the big screens. Mill Street co-founder Steve Abrams came by to chat at some point, as did C’est What‘s colourful owner George Milbrandt who was wearing an equally colourful scarf.

As Troy says over on his blog, “It was a good night celebrating Mill Street’s award won because of dedication, hard work and fantastic products”. Not much I can add to that, really, except to offer the Mill Streeters further congratulations on the well-deserved win.

Volo Cask Day: A(nother) Belated Review


Last year on Sunday, November 5th, I posted a review of Volo Cask Days 2006, two weeks after it actually happened. So it’s only fitting that exactly a year later, I should post a review of Volo Cask Days 2007, two weeks after it actually happened.

Once again, Ralph and the crew at Volo outdid themselves with this year’s festival. There were over 30 different cask beers available during three tasting sessions on Saturday and Sunday, plus a few rare and exclusive brews on draught, including three from the mighty Biergotter Homebrew Club. There was also a complementary cheese table courtesy of the Ontario Cheese Society, and plenty of tasty snacks from Alli’s Bread to help absorb the alcohol. And of course, plenty of good company.


Unlike last year’s review post, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the beers I tried, mainly because my tasting notes were pretty sketchy and I’m already written them up for RateBeer. I will say, though, that I agree somewhat with Stephen Beaumont’s assessment of some of the beers being evidence of “an enthusiastic industry whose reach often exceeded its grasp“.

While there were a good number of beers that I thought were very good – like Magnotta’s weizen/IPA hybrid Fog On The Tyne and Perry’s Atomic Punkin’ from Scotch-Irish Brewing – there were also a few noble but failed experiments amongst the many offerings. I find that the qualities that make cask ale so interesting and appealing – lower carbonation, higher serving temperature, etc. – also make it less forgiving to beers that are unbalanced or flawed in some way. There were a couple of beers I tried that I would frankly prefer to drink on draught, where the rough edges would be tempered a bit.

But all in all, those are small complaints. Cask Days is still the highlight of the year in Toronto’s beer scene, and I really hope Ralph keeps it going. October in Toronto wouldn’t be the same without it.


Beer of the Week – Wellington Arkell Best Bitter

This article was originally written in April 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in September 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after the Taste T.O. blog was shut down and taken offline.

When I first started learning a bit about British beer culture, I was confused by references to European lagers like Stella Artois and Heineken as being “strong lagers”. At 5.2% and 5.0% respectively, they seemed like normal strength beers to me, since 5.0% is pretty much the standard alcohol level for most mainstream beers in Canada.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that many popular pub ales in England tended to have alcohol levels in the 4.0% range. Even Guinness Draught, that supposedly “heavy and strong” beer, is only 4.1%. And that difference of a percentage point or so makes more of a difference than you think, especially when you’re throwing back a few in the course of the evening. Hence the term “session beer”, which is often applied to these ales that have less alcohol but are still full of character.

Here in Canada, of course, a 4.0% beer generally brings to mind Coors Light, Blue Light, Canadian Light – basically, bland and watery brand extensions that have even less flavour than their full-strength counterparts. But thankfully, the UK-style ale specialists at Guelph’s Wellington Brewery didn’t let the negative stereotypes stop them from creating Arkell Best Bitter, a 4.0% beer that has little in common with those macro-brewed light beers.

Available in bottled, draught and cask-conditioned form, Arkell is an orange-gold ale with a soft aroma that holds notes of malt, honey and grass. The body varies depending on the serving format, with the softer body of the cask version being preferable to the more carbonated draught and bottle versions, at least to my palate. The flavour doesn’t hold many surprises, but is very inviting and moreish, with a nice balance of caramel malt and slightly floral hops.

Simple but well made, flavourful without being overpowering, a good match with pub foods like fish & chips or pizza, and an alcohol percentage that let’s you have a few without getting too tipsy. All of these are good reasons to consider Arkell Best Bitter a quintessential session beer, especially if your session is taking place in an establishment that serves the cask-conditioned version, such as C’est What (67 Front Street East) or The Cloak & Dagger (394 College Street).

Beer of the Week – Fuller’s Cask-Conditioned ESB

This article was originally written in March 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in September 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after the Taste T.O. blog was shut down and taken offline.

OK, full disclosure time: I haven’t actually tried this week’s Beer of the Week yet, at least not in cask-conditioned form. But given the timing of this week’s column, I couldn’t resist featuring Fuller’s Cask-Conditioned ESB as my pick.

For you see, today marks a very momentous occasion, as for the first time in a long time – perhaps ever – a cask ale from the UK will be available at a bar in Toronto. Fans of cask ale here are somewhat satiated by the products of a few local breweries being available at a handful of local pubs in cask-conditioned form, but tonight at 6:00 PM, Ralph at Volo (587 Yonge Street) will be tapping a cask of Fuller’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter), giving many local beer drinkers (including yours truly) their first taste of a real, traditional ale from across the pond.

I have had the bottled version of Fuller’s ESB, and although it was a while ago, I seem to have enjoyed it if my notes from the time are any indication:

Clear amber with a moderate off-white head that leaves some great lacing. Pleasant sweet & earthy malt on the nose. Slight creamy mouthfeel, solid malt notes to start the flavour, and good bitterness in the finish. A tasty & easy drinking bitter.

I expect the cask version will be at least as good. If you want a better idea of what to expect, you can check the ratings at RateBeer, where 72 people have given it an average score of 3.42 out of 5.0, which is quite respectable.

Bottom line: If you have any interest in good beer, and you are able to do so, you really should try to make it down to Volo tonight. Maybe this will be the first in a series of casks making their way across the Atlantic for thirsty Ontario ale quaffers, but if not, won’t you be kicking yourself for missing out on this one?

Four Things For Friday

  1. I’m sort of late to the game on this story, as many other blogs have already covered it, as well as “real” news outlets including the New York Times and the Globe & Mail. But in case you haven’t heard about it yet, Massachusetts-based beer importers Shelton Brothers have been having some of their products rejected by liquor regulatory bodies in New York and Maine due to the beers’ names and/or labels being unacceptable. Some, like the Santa’s Butt Winter Porter pictured to the right, were snubbed due to the name and label graphics potentially being appealing to children, while Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus and Brasserie Les Choulette’s Sans Culottes were turned down because the labels feature paintings of bare-breasted women. While the civil libertarian in me finds these decisions to be pretty offensive, I can’t help but be a little amused by them as well, if only because it shows that even though most American states have a much freer market for alcohol sales than we do in Ontario, their government busy-bodies can be just as ridiculous as our pink elephant banning LCBO.
  2. I discovered a new blog this morning that I’m looking forward to keeping my eye on: Pint and a Smoke is written by fellow Torontonian Pat McLean, and it features his musings on the pubs in our fair city. His criteria for a good pub are quite similar to mine: no TVs (or maybe one, as long as it’s unobtrusive), no loud music, at least one good stout on tap, etc. While we live across town from each other, I hope that our paths cross at some point soon, as he seems like a good guy to hoist a few with (even though based on his other blog, he seems to be an Oilers fan…).
  3. Speaking of pubs: My local, The Rhino, has recently added a cask engine to their great line-up of local taps. Normally, this would be cause for celebration, but based on the experience that I and others have had there since they brought it in, I’m not especially enthused. The wife and I popped in for a pint the other night, and while our waitress knew that they had a cask ale on, she didn’t know what beer it was (“Uh… I think it’s an IPA?”), and when she went to the bar to ask, the barman sent her back with a sample rather than the name of the beer. The beer was in decent shape, at least, and I suspect that it was probably Durham Triple X IPA. But the lack of knowledge concerned me, as does the fact that the cask ale is not mentioned anywhere on their pre-printed beer menu. Cask ale lovers expect more care and knowledge, not to mention some assurance that they’ll be served a fresh pint, and newbies could end up being served stale pints that will turn them off the stuff – assuming they are even aware that it’s there.

  4. I got together last night with my pals Paul & Harry to help them drink about a dozen mediocre beers that Harry had trucked back from his last visit to Quebec. (Yes, we are beer rating whores). But just so the night wasn’t a complete swillfest, we threw in a couple of guaranteed winners, including the much-loved Struise Pannepot. The other two guys had had it before, but this was my first time trying it, and it definitely lived up to the hype. It pours a deep mahogany-brown with a small mocha head that leaves lots of lace. The aroma is big and round and inviting, with a fantastic sweet & roasty backbone supporting notes of brown sugar, caramel, and assorted dark fruits and spices. The flavour masterfully juggles notes of roasted coffee and dark sugar with hints of fruit (fig, plum, cherry) and spice (cinnamon, licorice), leading into a moderately dry and woody finish. A complex and remarkably satisfying beer that rivals the best that the Trappists have to offer.

Volo Cask Day: A Belated Review

One of the great mysteries of the Toronto beer scene is how a cozy family-run Italian restaurant called Volo has become a go-to destination for all serious beer aficionados. One of these days I’m going to have to do an interview with owner Ralph Morana to get the full story, but for now, we can just enjoy the fruits of his tireless labours to bring the best of the beer world to thirsty Torontonians.

The latest example was Volo’s second annual Cask Days festival, where Ralph invited over 20 Ontario craft brewers – as well as a couple of homebrewers and a special guest from Quebec – to provide cask ales that were served up over the course of two sessions on Saturday, October 21st. In a city where the number of bars that serve cask ale on a regular basis can be counted on two hands, the idea of having somewhere around 30 casks available for sampling in a single location is like beer heaven, even if it only lasts for a few hours.

Of course, as previous Volo events have proven, Ralph and his wife, Aina, and the rest of the Volo crew never do things by half measures. In addition to bringing together an outstanding line-up of beer, they also provided complimentary cheese from a variety of Ontario artisan cheese producers. And throughout the day, Ralph and staff walked through the crowd with baskets of sandwiches, pasties, and other tasty treats to help our tummies absorb all the beer we were downing.

And as for the beer itself, the brewers really stepped up with a selection that included lots of one-offs, ranging from variations to existing beers (lots of barrel-aging and wet- & dry-hopping) to brand new beers brewed exclusively for the event. I tried a dozen or so over the course of the day, and all of them pleased me in some way, but I had a few favourites:

Biergotter Hopocalypse
This IPA from the Biergotter Homebrew Club was definitely the buzz beer of the festival, and with good reason. It was a big, ballsy beer that was heavily influenced by West Coast IPAs, with a huge hop aroma and flavour, but enough malt in there to keep it from being completely ridiculous. More than one person was heard to say that someone needs to give these guys some cash to open a brewpub or brewery. Check out their extensive blog post about the day, as well as the recipe for Hopocalypse.

Dieu Du Ciel! Péché Mortel, Corne Du Diable & Vaisseau des Songes
Ralph scored quite a coup when he convinced the folks at Montreal’s venerable Dieu Du Ciel! brewpub to participate in this event. Due to the vagaries of Ontario liquor laws, the DDC beers (as well as the homebrews) could not be served as part of the regular admission price and had to be separately purchased with all money going to charity, but that didn’t stop them from being amongst the most popular beers of the day. Péché Mortel is an absolutely decadent coffee-laced Imperial Stout that I’d previously tried in bottled form, but having it on cask was a real treat – and it was the only beer of the day that had me going back for seconds. The Corne Du Diable is described as an American-style IPA, which means a big whack of hops upside your head. The Vaisseau des Songes was a surprise addition to the fest, and while it was in keg rather than cask form, it was still very nice – I’d describe it as the little brother of Corne Du Diable, as it’s also an IPA, but much more restrained in flavour and lower in alcohol.

Black Oak H&H Overkill
According to Ken at Black Oak, the H&H stood for “Hops & Jalapeños (pronounced: Halapeñooooo!!!!)”, which had me worried as I’m generally not a fan of chili beers. Not because I have an aversion to the hot stuff, but because most of the ones I’ve tried have simply been crappy lagers or bland golden ales with an assload of chilies thrown in. When I took my first whiff of this one, I thought it would go down the same road, as there was nothin’ but jalapeños going on in the aroma. But the flavour was surprisingly good, with the heat of the peppers taking on an almost sweet character to balance the fresh hops. Not something I’d drink every day, but still a pretty successful experiment.

Scotch Irish Admiral Perry Imperial IPA
Yeah, it’s another big honkin’ IPA. But nobody makes these suckers like Perry at Scotch Irish does. This one had so much spruce and pine on the nose that I thought I was sniffing a Christmas tree, and the hops in the flavour were absolutely ass-kicking. I wrote in my notes: “Stupidly over the top, but I liked it.” That pretty much sums it up.

According to Ralph, he had to turn away both brewers and attendees this year due to the lack of space, so there’s a germ of an idea to move it to a bigger venue next year. While it may never grow to the size and prestige of the Great British Beer Festival, it could certainly become of the premier cask ale events in North America if he sticks with it. Here’s hoping!

(PS: All of the crappy photos above were taken with my newfangled cameraphone. You can see more of them, as well as much nicer photos by people who presumably used real cameras, or perhaps cameraphones that take better photos than mine does, at the Volo Cask Days Flickr Group.)

Keepin’ It Real: A Guide to Cask Ale in Toronto

This article was originally written in October 2006 for the now-defunct food and drink website Gremolata. It was re-published here in September 2011, but back-dated to appear in the blog archives close to its original publication date.

To most North Americans who have grown up drinking mainstream lagers that taste like rancid corn juice once they inch above near-freezing, the idea of drinking warm beer is positively stomach churning. That might be why there are so many derisive jokes about the British and their supposed love of warm beer. While there is a grain of truth in this stereotype, there are two very important factors to keep in mind:

1) “Warm” is this context means cellar temperature, or roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) “Beer” is this context means traditional ales like bitters, pale ales and strong ales, not the adjunct-laden light lagers and golden ales that the big brewers specialize in.

To most beer aficionados, the best way to enjoy one of these traditional ale styles is in it’s most traditional state – unfiltered, unpasteurised and dispensed without artificial carbonation. Known as cask ale or real ale, this method of storing and dispensing beer is how things were done for centuries before the development of bottling, refrigeration, pasteurisation and pressurised kegs (not to mention the increasing popularity of light lager styles) all combined to drive these traditional ales to the brink of extinction. By the 1970s, traditional ales had all but disappeared from British pubs, and were a little-remembered relic of bygone days in North America.

However, thanks to the efforts of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the traditional British pub ale was saved from almost certain death. With a fervour that verges on the religious, the CAMRA folks have fought to save what they describe as “beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.” 35 years after it was formed by four drinkers who just wanted to find a decent pint, CAMRA now boasts over 80,000 members around the world, and has helped to push cask ale to the forefront of the craft and micro brew movement.

Here in Ontario, the resurgence of cask ale can be traced back to Guelph’s Wellington Brewery, where they’ve been producing cask versions of their ales for over 20 years. In fact, they were the first modern North American brewery to offer real ales, and their Arkell Best Bitter and County Ale remain popular choices for Ontario publicans who serve cask-conditioned brews. In the subsequent two decades, other Ontario brewers including Granite Brewery, County Durham, Black Oak and Scotch-Irish have joined the cask ale revolution, often augmenting the cask versions of their beers with extra hopping, aging in whiskey barrels, and other unique twists.

The main drawback of cask ales is that they require much more care and attention than pasteurised and pressured kegs. It takes an experienced publican to properly store, tap and serve cask ale, and an honest one to keep an eye on the quality of the beer in order to ensure that it is not served once it is past its prime, which is generally three days or so after the keg is tapped. (Some pubs use a device called a cask breather to replace the oxygen in the cask with a small amount of carbon dioxide, which will help extend the freshness of the beer, although some purists consider this to be against the real ale philosophy and frown upon it.) As a result, there are very few pubs that are willing to take on the responsibility of serving cask ale, and places that do so are generally given strong support from local beer lovers.

One of Toronto’s strongest advocates of cask ale is Ralph Morana, the owner of cozy Italian eatery Volo (587 Yonge St.) which has unexpectedly become one of Toronto’s top beer hot-spots in the last couple of years. In addition to having two handpumps pouring a rotating selection of cask ales on a regular basis, Volo is also the location of Toronto’s first and only all-cask beer festival, the annual Volo Cask Days, with this year’s edition taking place on Saturday, October 21st. Over the course of two 5-hour sessions, attendees will be able to enjoy cask ales – and even a couple of unfiltered, unpasteurised lagers – from 21 Ontario breweries and homebrewers, plus a special guest from Quebec, the renowned brewpub Dieu Du Ciel. Some of the more anticipated beers at the festival include Black Oak’s H&H Overkill, a variation on their Pale Ale brewed with extra hops and jalapenos (“pronounced Halapenooooo!!!!”); Neustadt Springs Brewery‘s Big Dog Beaujolais Porter, which is their seasonal Big Dog Porter aged in a wine barrel; Heritage Brewing‘s Smokin’ Maple, brewed with maple sap and Bamberg smoked malt; and a Pear Ginger Oatmeal Stout from homebrewer George Eagleson.

While this event would be a great place for a cask ale newcomer to get their feet wet, it has been sold out for weeks, so if you don’t have a ticket you can try dropping by Volo on Sunday when the leftovers – should there be any – will be available for general sale. Alternatively, if you can’t make it to Volo this weekend but would still like to try a pint or two of cask ale, you can always visit one of the pubs listed below, all of which offer cask ale on a regular basis.

Just remember: when it comes to cask ale, fresher is better, so make a point of asking your server when the cask was tapped before placing your order. If it’s been more than three days, or they don’t know the answer, you’re better off sticking with the kegged stuff until you can find a cask that is guaranteed to be fresh.

The Bow & Arrow (1954 Yonge St.) –three casks, rotating between different beers

C’est What (67 Front St. E.) – five casks, one dedicated to their Al’s Cask Ale house beer & four rotating

Cloak & Dagger (394 College St.) – one cask, Wellington

Dora Keogh (141 Danforth Ave.) – one cask, as well as a second handpump serving Fuller’s London Porter from a keg without additional carbonation

The Duke of Kent (2315 Yonge St.) – one cask, Wellington

The Feathers (962 Kingston Rd.) – one cask, Wellington

Granite Brewery (245 Eglinton Ave E.) – two casks, Granite Best Bitter Special & Granite IPA

Smokeless Joe (125 John St.) – one cask, County Durham

Victory Caf̩ (581 Markham St.) Рone cask, rotating

Volo (587 Yonge St.) – two casks, rotating