Taste: On Tap: Cask Ale

At Local 44, a new bar in West Philly, owner Brendan Hartranft is serving beer the way the English do: au naturel. In the U.S., most of our beer, like our milk, is pasteurized, to give it a longer shelf life. When suds are put through the high-heat process, yeasts die off, and flavor development stops. When the beer is barreled, gas is added to create a carbonated brew. But Brits prefer ale that’s unpasteurized. Absent the heat blast, residual yeast causes beer to undergo a second fermentation — and develop a natural carbonation — inside its wooden casks. The result is a less fizzy product with a deeper, fruitier taste, best served slightly below room temp rather than ice-cold. Like all living things, cask ale requires more TLC and has a limited lifespan: Once tapped, it really only lasts a few days. Try a rotating list of cask beers (many of them regional) at Local 44 (local44beerbar.com).