This is Rad! is a short column where I point out something on the internet that is totally rad.
Thanks to thefullpint.com for drawing my attention to this! Looks like its becoming easier to serve cask ale right out of the comfort of your own home! Cask evangelists Heavy Seas Beer out of Maryland and UK Brewing have teamed up to create a caskerator conversion kit - allowing you to turn any kegerator into a traditional British hand-pump beer engine!
For commercial spots, this is incredibly helpful and will make serving cask a lot easier for bars that don’t want a big custom set up. I’m always excited to see a handpump behind a bar, but its like a punch to the gut when you look down and find out the cask is just sitting on the floor without any temperature control or protection from the usually hot and sweaty bar environment. This kit even comes with a cask breather; a device that, when used properly, can add weeks to a cask-conditioned ale’s lifespan. This is something that’s crucial to bars and breweries that don’t have a high turn-around on their beer engine.
But this caskerator is just as exciting for homebrewers with an affinity for cask. Cask-conditioning is a process that really lends itself to homebrewers anyways (natural carbonation, experimental ingredients), and this has the potential to really effect the homebrewing community in a positive way.
But that price! Almost $1000 for the conversion kit isn’t going to make people line up to purchase. Homebrewing is certainly not a cheap hobby, but adding a thousand dollar item that might not be used all the time to your setup is a pretty big ask. I seem to remember an issue of Zymurgy a while back that includes plans on building a cask setup that might be a bit less flashy, but certainly does the job for a lot less cash.
Outside of the price, the other aspect that would prevent me from buying it is the size of firkins and pins. At 10 gallons and 5 gallons respectively, its not exactly a quantity you can burn through in a few days. Even with the help of a breather, a pin would still require you to consume 5 gallons of beer rather quickly. Here’s hoping that as cask ale becomes more popular a smaller vessel is built in the 2 to 3 gallon range. That would be the perfect size to split batches between cask-conditioned and kegs/bottles.