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Atlanta Cask Ale (#ACAT) 2014

Jan 25, 2014

So here I am, on the morning of another Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting (#ACAT), but this time I am not getting ready to head to the event later in the day. The #ACAT of 2014 will be the first one that I have not attended since the inaugural gathering. The reasons for my decision not to attend today, are outlined in this post that I wrote on this same morning, 12 months ago. I vowed not to return in 2014 and I am good to my word.

The post from 12 months ago summed up the whole situation for me then, but this years event brings with it some irony. In 2014 there seems to be more, traditional British casks* than ever before, so 2014 probably represents the #ACAT that I would have been most pleased with.  However, despite that, I remain steadfast and principled, and my decision leaves me at great peace.

*I say that, but when one looks at the list, there’s a LOT of beer that although I assume will be undefiled, still sits at ABV’s that are WAY above what showcases cask well, and is from breweries like Thornbridge who, in a number of instances, are FAR from ‘traditional’. I’m certainly not missing out on any, subtle, REAL @sessionbeer!

I honestly hadn’t given #ACAT another thought until about two weeks ago when a few tweets and emails came my way. Below is one of the conversations that I had on Twitter with my friend @Carny93. Like the post from a year ago that sums up my position from this time last year, the conversation below sums up my position right now. 11 beers from the UK, presumably not defiled in any way whatsoever, are not going to allow me to compromise my principles in relation to the abuse of cask ale that #ACAT has supported in the past. I just won’t do it. As I say below, my principles override my hedonism.

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A little later, @robsterowski sent me the tweet below, suggesting things are ‘looking up’ (the link in his tweet points to this).

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I followed up with a number of tweets to @Ilkleybrewery to ask them what their thoughts on the previous abuse of cask ale at #ACAT, is. Unsurprisingly, I got no response. If I were a traditional, English brewer, I would not be sending MY cask ale to #ACAT, as I would not want to be associated with a gathering that allowed a brewer to put Hostess Cup Cakes in a firkin, and call it real/cask ale. I don’t pretend to know what Michael Jackson would think of this, but I have a pretty strong feeling about how he, and others like him, would rank this practice.

Finally @NateDawg27 chimed in and I repeated what I had said before about knowing/assuming that Ilkley (and the others from the UK), would presumably not be abusing their casks with Walmart purchased ‘confection’ like the Americans, but that even so, I simply cannot support the event, even if it means on missing out on some really good beer. The principle is that important to me, and in any case, how on earth can I, with a straight-face, square the juxtaposition of artisanal beer with ‘beer’ infused with this? SERIOUSLY?

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2013 was the year that cask ale in Atlanta died for me, and this years line up does nothing to resurrect it.



  1. Reg

    It’s the damn mystery of not knowing if the beer been defiled that would bother me.

    Just because there is UK beer in a cask doesn’t mean it’s been properly cellared, so you may or may not get what’s in the cask out of the cask like a beer in the UK.

    I find that hearing that there would be beers from the UK in cask is always a selling point for me when I hear of a real ale festival. I’ve been let down every time. I am near DC and we have a bar called Churchkey. They get and have good beers. The last time I was aware that they had some UK cask brews showing up, I went down and found that none of them were UK like probably due to improper cellaring. We just can’t wait here in the states for things to occur. Cask shows up in the morning, it’s put in its’ stillage a few hours before serving and huh, it sucks. Well it doesn’t suck if you never had a properly served cask ale, it just taste of nothing you’d probably buy again.

    Ding, I see where you are coming from. You’ve been waiting to be pleasantly surprised many a time, but it just doesn’t happen.

    • Ding

      Well, I think that the UK brewers will simply be presenting their casks as ‘normal’. I take your point about cellarmanship, but Ilkley, for example, is I believe, bringing ‘their man’ with the beer so I think it will be OK. However, my greater point is that I cannot, in good conscience, support the event for the previous abuse that has taken place.

  2. rob

    It does come across as rather odd that you’ve gone all the years when it’s been terrible but now that it might be a bit better you’re not going. But then I know nothing about cask ale in the states.

    By the way, Ilkley’s Mary Jane is my favourite session ale. 3.5%, tasty but not assaulting your taste buds. (They have a stronger IPA version too). You’re definitely missing out if they’ve brought that over!

    • Ding

      It’s actually just bad luck/timing. Last year was the final straw for me; cask stuffed with store bought cupcakes – REALLY? I lost my mind over that and vowed to never support this abuse again.

  3. kp

    You missed a really nice traditional English cask from the UK that had chocolate and chili peppers in it.

    • Ding

      Well, thank God I wasn’t there promoting that kind of crap.

      Good to hear from you BTW. The downside of not attending these events any longer, is that I don’t get to check-in with you guys. A shame, but my principles take precedent.

  4. Reg

    Bringing their man with them? I don’t know, that would have tempted me….

    • Ding

      Me too, but the damage ACAT has done in the past, cannot be forgotten at the moment.


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