Inside the delicate art of “Krausening”

Typically what you do is fill a cask with beer that’s already fermented and is just about to be filtered into a brite tank. Then, to carbonate it, you add dextrose. This has the effect of stirring the dormant yeast to life and thus conditioning the beer. French Broad Brewery cellarman and Asheville Brewers Supply stalwart Alex Chambers described the dormant yeast as “pooped-out” and compared the dextrose method to yanking the yeast out of bed. “It’s groggy. It doesn’t want to get up,” he said. When a cask is krausened, what you do is add a small quantity of freshly fermenting beer in lieu of dextrose. It’s like, if a casked ale is an aged body, the carbonating agent is a portion of its youthful self, added in through some bizarre and wonderful process involving a time machine and alchemy. Speaking of time machines and alchemy:

I’ve been reading T.H. White’s The Book of Merlyn. How it starts is, Merlyn confronts the expiring octo- or nonagenarian King Arthur and convinces him to become childlike again for a pair of transformative courses in being. The King has no desire to alter his form (he has earned his age; it would be undignified) but permits the wizard to enliven his brains, to give his mind the elasticity and nimbleness of youth. Merlyn krausens Arthur’s brain, see: all at once he bubbles and fizzes and dashes into wonderment.

So the guys took a pint of French Broad IPA fermenting at a high roll (how you felt in your 20s) and added it to a cask of ret-to-brite IPA (how you feel now). Describing the difference between this and the dextrose method, Alex Chambers said “that yeast feels good” and pistoned his arms like you do when at a brisk jog. “That yeast got laid last night,” added Brewer Peter Batinksi, “It’s ready to go.” “Happy yeast,” Chambers concluded.

The effect, I am glad to report, is a remarkably clean cask-conditioned ale. This IPA is indeed vigorous. Its happiness is light on the grateful palate. Do come in and try some!

From left: Batinsky and Chambers.

From left: Batinski and Chambers.