A firkin of Oakham Bishops Farewell has just arrived in the US. This particular firkin is reserved for thirsty Long Island beer enthusiasts. It will be tapped at Deks in Rocky Point on Friday, February 8.
For the last few months Deks has played host to a series of cask nights instigated by the nascent Long Island Malt and Beer Enthusiasts, an organization devoted to the promotion of craft beer culture on Long Island. I was very happy to see Lenn at the last cask night. (That cask night is also the subject of the 100th episode of my Long Island beer podcast Radio Beer Hall.)
Last September, I wrote about what cask conditioned or real ale is, but some of you might not know what a "cask night" is. If you've never attended such an event, then you'll have a chance early next month. I'll give you a taste of what to expect at a cask night.
If you arrive when the cask is tapped, you'll get to see the cellarman (or "landlord" or "publican", etc.) tap the cask. The cask sits on top of the bar on a wooden rack known as a stillage. The first thing the cellarman does is drive a soft spile into the top vent of the cask. After that he'll use his trusty mallet again to drive a tap or spigot into the serving port. All this takes a few minutes and is quite dramatic. When the cask is tapped everyone cheers and the beer starts flowing.
While the cask might be the focus of the event, what's fun about cask nights is the social dimension. Beer lovers from all over Long Island will converge on the pub for the cask night. The topic of conversation usually starts with beer, but as the night goes on you'll have made some new friends.
A cask is usually small enough that it will be finished the same night that it is tapped. Typically, we've been procuring casks that contain 40 pints. The cask of Oakham Bishops Farewell is a full firkin which is about 80 pints. So we hope that you'll come out and help us put this ale to good use.
If you can't wait until the next cask night at Deks, the annual Long Island Real Ale Festival is taking place at the Blue Point Brewing Company on Saturday, January 26. The event starts at 1 p.m. and runs until 5 p.m.