Cask vs Keg Beer - What’s the Difference?

Y ou’ve probably heard the terms ‘cask’ and ‘keg’ mentioned before, and it can be a little confusing as to what they mean. Beer is beer, right?

There are significant differences between cask and keg that impact how the beer is made, stored, and ultimately how it tastes. Here’s a look at the qualities of each, and which is best.


What is cask ale? 

When it comes to cask ale (or cask beer) everything is unprocessed and the result of raw, quality ingredients. Unlike keg beer, cask is a living beer that’s unpasteurised and unfiltered. This means it has a shorter shelf life, but it’s worth it, as nothing can beat that fresh taste. The beer is also naturally conditioned and undergoes a secondary stage of fermentation inside the barrel, allowing the character and flavour to develop with age.


What is keg beer?

Keg beers are filtered and force-carbonated, which makes them colder than cask ales and fizzy, and expands their lifespan. They’re gas-driven too, which is why you’ll notice the beer flow steadily from a tap on the bar, rather than your server having to repeatedly pull the beer through the line, as with cask ale. The additional bubbles and cooler temperatures change the feel and flavour of the beer.

Three friends raising pint

Cask vs keg

The quality of keg beer has come on leaps and bounds over recent years, but it’s still worlds apart from the cask experience. There is a dramatic difference between the look, feel, and taste of keg and cask beers.

Like Champagne, cask beer ages in the barrel, resulting in the deepening of its flavour profile. It’s very much a ‘live’ product, with the active yeast continuing to break down sugars to produce alcohol. The flavour of keg beers doesn’t evolve at all in this way. The forced carbonation ensures the beer lasts longer than cask but results in a permanent flavour profile and a fizziness to the body of the beer.

Keg beers are cold and fizzy. Lagers are a classic keg beer style, but you also get IPAs, pale ales, and stouts too. While cask is seen as king for many, and for good reason, keg beers certainly have their place and can be pretty hard to beat on a hot summer’s day spent soaking up the rays in a beer garden. Our flagship lager, korev, is a great example of this. Some of our other keg beers include Monterey pale ale, Cubic pale ale, Mena Dhu stout, and we even keg Proper Job at some locations.