If mass-market kegs are the Wonder bread and Velveeta of the beer world, cask ales are like fresh-baked loaves or artisanal cheeses, with the potential to be glorious but risky all the same.For the full article, click here (registration required; to avoid registration, go to bugmenot.com). For Mr. Asimov's companion piece in the Times' blog section, click here. This blog posting contains a few more details on the cask conditioning process, including this mind-boggling piece of information:
Brewers generally add a fining material as well, like isinglass, which helps to settle the yeast cells to the bottom of the cask and clarify the ale. While haziness is typical of hefeweizen and certain bottle-conditioned beers, cask ales ought to be clear. By the way, isinglass comes from the air bladders of fishes like sturgeon, cod and hake, and it’s interesting to speculate on how brewers and winemakers discovered its clarifying properties.Hat-tip to Mike for finding this a few days ago.