standard Cask Days 2014 Recap

For their annual Cask Days festival, the Moranas seem to find a way to out-do their past year’s performance. Between the showcase region (California this year), the number and variety of interesting beers, and the top-notch food this is the beer event I highlight in my calendar and look forward to for months. It’s also at the end of the beer festival season in Toronto (for the most part) so it makes sense to try and suck every bit of marrow possible from it.

I was literally first in the door for session one and will also head back at least once more this weekend. Here are my best-of hits from the samples I tried on Friday evening.


When in Cask: The UK was featured last year and several breweries have made a very apropos return appearance. I overheard other attendees talking up the Oud Bruin, which was good, but I felt the palate didn’t quite deliver on the aroma’s promise. Best bet here is the Lord Marples from Thorbridge — this is what cask ale should taste like.


Sun and Surf: A couple preview guides that I found were bang-on with recommendations for the California tent. Inhopsicated from Pizza Port was excellent and the Northern Hemisphere from Sierra Nevada was an ever more impressive, knock-you-on-your-ass hop bomb.

Go East: As I found out on this summer’s road trip the breweries of Canada’s maritime provinces are putting out some really great stuff and probably deserve more attention than they get. Two of the region’s best offerings at Cask Days happened to land beside each other: The Chantelope 100% Brett Saison from Grimross is a complex, funky take on the style that could make a convert of any wine drinker and Greg Nash’s Terroir Wet Hop Harvest IPA is balanced, floral, and intriguing.

Root Root for the Home Team: For most of my other years at Cask Days I have only given a tiny bit of attention to the Ontario table. I figured that I’ll have far more opportunity to try these beers than I will the ones that have traveled from much further afield. Maybe so, but I was happily surprised by all but one of the Ontario beers I sampled. Innocente’s Until Proven Guilty RIS was a dark chocolate layer cake of boozy goodness, Sawdust City’s Dawson Kriek (a sour alt with sour cherries) was the finest sour beer I could find, and the Nickel Brook collaboration with Sawdust City, The 2014 version of “11.04” was everything a triple IPA should be.  As I looked back through the programme to confirm names, I found myself ticking off several more of the Ontario options as one to look for when I head back for another go.

These tips are all based on beers I tried at session 1, but it wouldn’t have been possible to make a manageable short list without the help of these preview guides:

Keep in mind that this year’s Sunday session will be a “last call for the cask” format. That means admission is only $5 (plus another $5 for a glass unless you bring yours back from one of the earlier sessions) and larger pours while supplies last.

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