- Stick wrote:
- Brewdude wrote:
When I was in the heyday of homebrewing in the early 80's I splashed out on a
British made wooden cask called a "Pin" which contains about 6 US gallons. Had it custom made from a cooperage called Buckley's in Dukinfield, Cheshire. They stamped the head with the name of my home brewery which I called "Fountainhead Brewery, USA".
... and I'd wager you still have that barrel Rande?
Speaking of barrels, when I worked in the Highlands I used to take groups on canoeing trips down the River Spey, home of Speyside whiskey malt houses. I used to paddle right past distilleries such as Knockando, Aberlour and McCallan. They all used to mash their whiskeys on different days of the week and the smell was very distinctive. I could tell where I was on the river by the day of the week and the smells! Knockando used to (and perhaps still does) keep all its barrels stacked up right next to the river. 100s of them. Quite a sight it was too.
Mate, sadly the cask was lost (more probably stolen) during my move to the Pac NW in '90. For details I won't go into here, the commercial movers I used would not accept responsibility. Catch me over a beer sometime, and I'll tell you the tale.
And make no mistake, this was a huge blow in many ways. I'm still PO'd after all these years. By then, Buckley's had closed and they were the last independent cooperage in the UK. So, no chance of getting a replacement.
Yes there were sources for Stainless Steel casks, but what I had was a piece of living history when "beer from the wood" was the norm and not the exception. In fact there was once an organisation in the UK called "Society for Preservation of Beer in the Wood (SPBW)" back when I first joined CAMRA in '82. No idea if they're still going.
Don't think they are still around. Samuel Smith used them to a small extent back in the 80's (they had a cooperage that mostly repaired old casks but not making new ones), but that was mostly for marketing purposes.
IIRC Bass even used them into the 80's, when there was actually a "Bass" in one of it's many iterations. Again, a marketing ploy.
And a very noteworthy cooperage was under the umbrella of Theakstons of North Yorkshire. I once met the celebrated cooper Clive Hollis ( a true legend in his own time) and was escorted around the brewery on a personal tour in true Brit fashion -with a fresh pint in my hand!
Clive was very personable as well. Every time we passed by the test cask they had on stillage (look it up) he bade me "Top up mate". And so I did! This was the new to be released Theakstons XB, and I drank deeply of this fluid! The year? '82.......
David, your account of the sights and aromas of the distilleries mashing in reminds me of many heartfelt memories. Which also trigger olfactory memoires.
I attended Whisky Fest on Islay in '01, and spent a week there touring the distilleries. Many were private tours in which the Director of Operations himself led us around to areas that were normally out of bounds to usual tours.
In particular, we were allowed in the cask ageing rooms where the casks were broached in various points of their age so that we could ascertain the effects of age, It was an illuminating experience!
I have these reminiscences all on a blog, and would be happy to trot them out if there's any interest!