Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Engine & Cask

We took a trip to Chicago earlier this year for a homebrewing competition as well as a long weekend getaway. Among some of the typical places we wanted to hit (Map Room, Publican, Goose Island Clybourn), we had our sights set on Owen & Engine. We wouldn't have known about this place had it not been for Elliot (from Waldo Pizza) moving to Chicago and getting a gig there as the Beer Manager. We ran into him last fall and he mentioned the place to us. We couldn't wait to check it out.

Owen & Engine
Photo from Metromix Chicago
There were several reasons we wanted to go (one of them being the stellar British-inspired food menu), but the main one was for the beer engines. They've got four of them set up behind the bar, each with carefully-selected beers available. The place also has 20 separate taps at the bar, again all thoughtful and representing a wide variety - everything from Rodenbach Grand Cru to Bitburger, cider, and Cafe Negro. We had a great time trying a bunch of the beers on engine, as well as those on the standard taps and I recommend stopping here any time you're in Chicago.

I'd really like to see more places in Kansas City offer beer on engine (whether cask or keg), or even gravity-fed from a cask. A few bars around town do have engines, but they’re rarely ever in use. And while beer on engine can be kegged with CO2 gas maintained at a low level to keep a blanket over the beer, it’s the beer in a cask that is really something unique (ever try an IIPA on cask? Amazing difference between its kegged counterpart!). But its shelf life is short, and the last time I did have something from cask here in town, it had oxidized beyond salvation. It seems we just don’t have enough interest in beer on engine and/or cask to really make it worth the bar’s time or expense.

However, it looks like St Louis is experiencing a surge of attention to cask beer. iTap introduced its cask program this spring:  they purchased empty casks and now send them off to various breweries to be filled and returned. And just announced that Lohr Distributing recently purchased casks for a similar program catering to multiple bars in the STL area.

If the KC beer scene keeps moving forward as it has in the past 2-3 years, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing a revival of cask nights and dusting off the ol’ beer engines. I hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tasting Notes