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Mini-Cask vs Mini-Keg – What’s The Difference?

 

There’s been lots of chat about our beloved 5-litre beer babies in recent weeks, they’ve obviously been very popular since pubs have closed as thirsty folks like you around the UK seek out a little taste of the pub at home, but what is a mini-cask, and is it different to a mini-keg?

We’ve put together this wee blog to help clear things up in terms of what we do and how we package our beers, so you know what to look for when you’re ordering (but remember that other breweries might have different definitions).

SHOP MINI-CASKS & MINI-KEGS

What’s the difference between mini-cask and mini-keg?

On the outside, mini-casks and mini-kegs are the same – we use the same recyclable five-litre vessel for both, but the difference lies in how we process the beer inside.

Mini-casks are small versions of the 41-litre casks we send to pubs, filled exactly the same way with the same beer and live yeasts that give it a soft carbonation (or ‘conditioning’) to the beer.

Mini-kegs are filled with five litres of filtered, pre-carbonated beer, so they require less time to settle, but they also need to be consumed a lot quicker once opened to enjoy them at their best.

In the same way that we have beers that we only sell in cask (Avalanche, Hurricane Jack, Highlander etc) and some beers we only sell in keg (Fyne Lager, Workbench and Easy Trail), we offer both mini-casks and mini-kegs depending on which format best suits the beer.

Some of our classics lend themselves to the soft carbonation that comes with conditioning on live yeasts, which is why we fill our mini-casks in the exact same way as we fill fullsize casks for pubs. And some of our beers taste better a bit colder and a bit more fizzy – which is why we also offer mini-kegs of filtered, carbonated beers.

Whatever you choose, mini-casks and kegs should have at least six weeks of shelf life on them when they arrive at your door (sticker on the bottom), so if you’re planning ahead, don’t worry about ordering too early – just keep them somewhere cool and dark until you want to use them.

SHOP MINI-CASKS & MINI-KEGS

Mini-Casks – In Detail

Mini-casks are not pre-carbonated, but instead are packaged with live yeast which gives the beer a soft fizz (or conditioning) after filling. Most of the conditioning takes place in the time between filling up the casks at the brewery and arriving on your doorstep, but because of the live yeast, they require at least 24 hours to allow the yeast to settle to the bottom of the cask before opening. If you leave the beer longer at 10-12°C, you might get a little more fizz into the beer, but for most 24-36 hours settling in the fridge and you should be good to go.

Once the yeast has settled, follow the instructions on the back of the mini-cask (or below) and enjoy your perfect cask beer at home, remembering to leave the last half pint in the bottom (as that’s where all the yeast will have settled), and using within three days of opening.

A quick note for those of you who have ordered or are thinking of ordering Daydreamer IPA – this has been brewed with a combination of hops and malts to make it full-bodied, juicy and most importantly, hazy. This means that even when all the yeast has settled to the bottom of the mini-cask, there will still be some soft haze to the beer – this is perfectly normal and the beer is completely fine to drink.

Apart from Daydreamer, our priority for mini-casks has been Jarl – we’ve been trying to keep it in stock as best we can over the past weeks, and we’re now confident we’re going to be able to keep it available and fresh going forward, which means we can look at other beers from our year-round range – Avalanche in mini-cask, anyone? They’re on sale right now, if you’re quick.

Instructions:

  1. Rotate the tap (front) in the direction of arrows to the horizontal position.
  2. Pull the tap out, away from the body of the mini-cask, until it stops.
  3. Press the red button on the tap to dispense beer into your favourite glass – it will be quite powerful at first, but slow down quickly.
  4. To increase flow of beer, slowly open the air-release (top).
  5. When you’ve finished pouring, push the tap back into the mini-keg and close the air-release (top) to help retain carbonation.

SHOP MINI-CASKS & MINI-KEGS

Mini-Kegs – In Detail

Mini-kegs are filled with filtered, carbonated beer with no live yeast – this means that beer is fizzier and doesn’t require as much time to settle, but also means it doesn’t keep as long once opened – think of it as a bit like a big bottle of fizzy juice – if it’s a bit shaken up, best to give it a little while before opening, and the longer its open, the flatter it gets.

Mini-kegs are definitely best shared at a socially distant BBQ or garden gathering – we recommend consuming them within 24 hours of opening and 8.8 pints in a day is probably a bit much for one person – just be sure to clean the wee tap between pours.

While our couriers DHL and APC have been generally brilliant over the past couple of month, we can’t always ensure the mini-kegs haven’t gotten a little shaken up in transit, so when they arrive on your doorstep, get them in the fridge and give them a good few hours before opening – your first half pint is likely to be a bit foamy even with a chance to chill, but if you open it straight away your first pour will be extra foamy.

In terms of how to pour your mini-keg, DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BACK – these are for mini-cask, and instead there should be a sticker taking you to this blog (hello!) and you can find mini-keg instructions below or an illustrated version here.

So far, we’ve only packaged Fyne Lager in mini-keg format, as it’s the only beer in our keg range that isn’t available in bottle or can, but we’re looking at potential Easy Trail mini-kegs for the future – let us know if that’s something you’d be interested in over on social media (Facebook / Twitter / Instagram)..

Instructions:

  1. Slowly open air-release (top) by turning 90 degrees, allowing excess carbonation to escape. It may hiss and foam a bit, so maybe have a cloth ready just in case – wait until it stops. If you don’t do this, you’re going to be pouring pints of foam for a while.
  2. Rotate the tap (front) in the direction of the arrows until horizontal.
  3. Pull the tap (front) out, away from the body of the mini-keg until it stops.
  4. Press the red dispense button on the tap to pour beer- the first half pint might be foamy, let it settle and it’s good to go.
  5. When you’ve finished pouring, push the tap back into the mini-keg and close the air-release (top) to help retain carbonation.

SHOP MINI-CASKS & MINI-KEGS

So there you have it, the full lowdown on our mini-casks and mini-kegs – not too complicated, eh?

Thanks to everyone for their ongoing support and orders – we’ll see you soon with more blogs, and in the meantime, be sure to hit us up on social media (Facebook / Twitter / Instagram).

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