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ACAT 2013 – The follow up

Jan 27, 2013

OK, following yesterdays 2013 Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting, and in the wake of this post, I wanted to follow up with a quick run down of the events and the beer as they unfolded.

Firstly it was great to see so many people that I hadn’t run into in quite a while. A lot of folk that I’ve come to be acquainted with over the years, and even some people that I actually like! Seriously, it’s these folks that I’ll miss as I put beer events in Atlanta behind me for the final time.

On the downside the ‘cask’ tasting was pretty much exactly as I thought it would be. Silly beer, that does not represent cask and wouldn’t be recognizable to anyone from the home of cask ale, the UK. Mindless, ridiculous ‘ingredients’, added to make ‘weird’ beer, in the classic American style of ‘louder is better’. Without a single beer from the UK in the 38 barrel line-up, there were gaping holes in the list that is supposed to represent ‘cask ale’. Pitiful.

There were a few bright points that didn’t/don’t fit that damning criticism, notably the London Porter brewed by Crawford Moran from 5 Seasons that was brewed with malt from the UK, the Moon-River Slo-vannah American Pale Ale and the Twains River Sunset Amber were the best of pretty poor selection of beer.

I was desperately upset by Jailhouse’s Misdemeanor. I really, really, really like that beer a LOT and my pulse quickened a little when I saw it was in the line-up at cask #11. WOW, a chance to try Misdemeanor on cask, what a fantastic, rare treat. OH SHIT! Hold on. They’ve decided to defile a perfectly wonderful beer and abuse the cask delivery, by shoving a load of spices and orange peel into the beer. What a terrible, terrible shame, and a CLASSIC missed opportunity to present a proper cask ale. That REALLY saddened me a lot, and it kind of sums up the whole catastrophic state of cask ale in the US. You just took something with the potential to be magnificent, and screwed it up. Bugger!

On to the real nightmares. The Sweetwater Sad Ending was literally undrinkable, as was the The Wrecking Bar Tip of the Cap ‘English Mild’. The former was as expected, but the latter was tremendously disappointing. My wife summed up the ‘Mild’ when she said it tasted like vanilla Coke. Frankly, it wasn’t that good. I’m going to reserve judgment on Wild Heaven’s Belgian Style-IPA. It tasted utterly bizarre to me, but that may have been a result of palate fatigue as much as anything else. It wasn’t good at all, but I’m not sure I gave it a fair crack of the whip. Maybe we’ll see that down the line.

Predictably, beers with ingredients like maple syrup, honey and peppers, along with coffee, cinnamon, apples and peanut butter either won awards or were well received. So, not beer at ALL, then. Tragic.


  1. Scott Hedeen

    Good speaking with you old boy, Seems when I told several people I had just spoken with you, they could not believe it. When asked to point you out, you were long gone. POOF!

    • Ding

      Cheers Scott, I always enjoy talking to you! More in the future, I hope.

  2. Ben Manning

    Hey Ding,

    Nice meeting you yesterday and hearing your take on some of the casks. I enjoyed many more of the beers than you, but I agree that the randalized beers in the casks shouldn’t really be called cask ale, and in many cases the base beer is completely overwhelmed by the additions.

    • Ding

      Ben – Likewise. Hope we can catch up in a slightly quieter setting next time! Cheers.

  3. Nathan Berrong

    Nice read, I agree w/most all of this (even if I do enjoy a big Imperial Stout brewed with peppers). My biggest qualm is that, as you pointed out, not a single British brewery was represented. For shame.

    • Ding

      I enjoy lots of big, high ABV beers too – just not with peppers(!), but more importantly, let’s make sure that we know what cask is, and what it isn’t.

  4. Crawford

    I wish people understood what a cask is! They are wonderful and a joy to experience.


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