Call us naive (“You’re naive!”) but we hadn’t given a moment’s thought to where a brewery gets its casks and how it keeps hold of them until the last year or so. Maybe we thought there was a cask fairy?
Twitter gives an insight into what valuable assets they are. Brewers coo over their new acquisitions and show off photos of casks with custom colour schemes. They beg for casks to be returned safely as if they were kidnapped children. They rage at pub chains who return casks months late covered in bird droppings or painted to decorate a beer festival. It’s an emotional business.
Roger Ryman, head brewer at St Austell, told us that casks are a constant headache: fetching them back from the corners of the country is an expensive and time-consuming business. The last we heard, St Austell weren’t sending any of their own casks out of Cornwall, instead using rented casks for UK-wide distribution, at a small additional cost.
That’s a keg in the picture. At least we think it is. Hmmm: we need to do some bar work.