Today's Methods of dispensing from a Cask
21st century cellar equipment is a far cry from what the staff of 200 years ago were using when Harry Masons first started. Traditionally for cask, the barrels would have been laid down in a horizontal position and hand crafted out of wood with the traditional cask tap made from brass.
However things changed for the brass cask tap when breweries started using aluminium as well as wood for their barrels. Different reasons such as weight and life longevity contributed to this change however the main reason was down to the aluminium of the barrel reacting with the brass tap, which in turn affected the quality of the ale within the cask.
So a new plastic alternative arrived in the form of the typical Cask Tap that we see today (pictured) - however potentially it could have been worse than purchasing just new taps. Traditionally all of the beer engine cylinders would also have been made out of brass. Gaskell and Chambers Cylinders were the most popular of choice and are now considered the “grandfather” of the current Harry Mason cylinder which is today made from 316 stainless steel and acrylic.
Today the average pub goer requires a couple specific things from its local; probably the most important being a large variety of beers and ales! To be able to offer the customer a great choice of beer on draft this results in the Cellar being very congested and crowded with barrels. In the smaller cellar this can potentially result in some of them having to be stored on top of each other; making the traditional style of lying the barrels down on their sides completely impractical.
The solution to this problem came around 30 years ago with the creation of the Rigid Upright Extractor. A new device which gives the ability to draw the beer from a vertical barrel.
Due to the functionality and design of the rigid extractor there has been a decrease in the amount of wasted ale per cask. Another positive feature of dispensing vertically is that the beer settles in the barrel in a similar way to how it does in a glass, meaning you can dispense from the barrel sooner as you are dispensing from just underneath the surface. You will however have to lower the extractor throughout dispense.
As an alternative to this there is also the ‘Harry Mason Flexible Ale Extractor’ which is now available. The main difference is the Silicon Tube and the floatation device – see picture above. This means you don’t have to manually lower the extractor down whilst you are dispensing the barrel and the float sits at the desired angle where the inlet is submerged just below the surface of the beer. The Flexible Extractor float system ensures that the beer is always drawn from the surface giving you a clear pint every time. Both Extractors are simple to use, require low maintenance, eliminate the need for racking systems and reduce handling time. Our Rigid & Flexible Extractors are available as both singles and doubles, in all threads and for all barrel sizes.
But going back to the advantages the ‘Harry Mason Flexible Ale Extractor’ has over the standard rigid ale extractor is that it comes as standard with 2 bodies (otherwise known as collars and broaches). This is a huge advantage in the cellar because of what the extra body gives you the facility to achieve. It allows you to tap the next barrel well in advance, meaning that when the previous barrel has been emptied you just open up the next body (which has been pre-tapped into the next cask) and lower through the extractor or siphon through. This removes a considerable amount of waiting time for the beer to be primed. This stage can’t be rushed as pubs and bars can’t dispense beer that hasn’t completely settled within the barrel, failure to do so could result in serving sub-standard beer to your loyal customers. After all great tasting beer is one of the key reasons your regulars keep returning.