Equipment Buying Guide: Cask vs Lager System

Fresh beer filling the glass directly from the tap. With extra foam spilling over glass.

Introduction

When looking to install a lager or cask dispense setup in your pub, bar, nightclub or restaurant there are a few considerations that must be addressed before you purchase your equipment. This blog aims to give you a comprehensive buying guide and the difference between a lager and cask dispense system.                        

Cellar Equipment

When installing cellar dispense equipment on a large scale such as a pub or nightclub, there are a few differences in how the install takes place with regards to the system and the gas used. This type of installation is taking place in a controlled environment and by that I mean the account has got its own cellar and will therefore have cellar cooling.

The cellar cooling will keep the kegs at a consistent temperature of 10°c, providing all the internal and external doors are shut. Any additional heat entering the cellar may affect the equilibrium, which is used to set the correct gas pressure, which, in turn, may affect the dispense of the product.

Different Gasses

There are generally two different types of gas used on a beer dispense system, namely Co2 and Mixed Gas (although there are several types of mixed gas 30/70, 60/40 and 50/50). The two most commonly used are Co2 which would be used on you lagers and ciders, then 30/70, which is used on your bitter products. Different gases are used dependant on what the product is and how the final presentation will look. You’ll find that Co2 is used on lagers so that on final presentation it will be very bright, bubbly, lively and give you a refreshing taste, whereas 30/70 (which is 30% Co2 and 70% Nitrogen) will provide you with a bright, smooth and tight creamy head.

Similarities

Lager and Cask often are kept in the same cellar cooled controlled environment; they can be stored and dispensed in a vertical position. The Cask can also be dispensed from a horizontal position via the use of a stillage or a self-tilting storage unit, and either way will allow perfect dispense.

Lager Dispense

Keg Lager and Bitters generally use Keg Couplers, Gas Pumps, Primary and Secondary valves, Co2 and Mixed Gas, fob detectors, pythons, remote coolers and finally a font to present the final product to the consumer.

Cask Dispense

In contrast, cask ale will present the final product in a slightly different way. It will use a cask tap or ale extraction rod instead of a keg coupler. However, it will still use Gas Pumps, secondary valves and a python, but rather than using a remote cooler it will use a PTC (Python Temperature Controller) pre-set to 10°c so that a consistent temperature is maintained at final dispense. This eliminates the risk of the pint looking cloudy or having a chill haze on it. The last part of the cask dispense in the bar area will be completed using a hand-pull instead of a font.