At a recent preview tour of the new Monday Night brewery on Atlanta’s Westside, our guide asked whether anyone could name the four basic building blocks of beer. Of course, a whole bunch of hands shot up, and at least one person shouted out the tried-and-true answer: water, malt, hops, yeast.
Nowadays, though, those ingredients are just the bare essentials. In the Belgian tradition, many beers are dosed with candy sugar and flavored with fruit and spices. Or in American extreme fashion, they’re jacked up with chocolate and/or coffee, or inebriated in wine or whiskey barrels.
Casks, once the vessel of English mild session ales, have become a delivery system for all sorts of wild flavors.
Some of the winners at the 2012 Sweetwater Brew Your Cask Off competition were named “Nuttin Butter,” “The Chubby Chocolate Bunny” and “The Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Porter.” And at the most recent Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting, Sweetwater made “Sad Ending,” an Imperial