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Why Cask Ale Matters

Bar Volo/Facebook

In honour of this weekend's Cask Days at Evergreen Brick Works, let's explore the wild world of an unfiltered, unpasteurized brew named desire cask. What is it? Who serves it? And why should we care?

If the 9th annual cask-conditioned craft beer festival is anything to go by, Torontonians have been lapping up cask beer suds for quite some time. And they've mainly been doing it at Bar Volo, that Yonge and Wellesley brew-mecca (though patrons of near-by gay bar Woody's actually drink more beer than any other bar in Ontario).

What started out as an Italian cafe in the 1980s has evolved to become the epicenter of a movement away from tasteless lager towards quality ale: Bar Volo has been titled the Golden Tap Awards best bar for cask ale since 2009.

Cask-conditioned ale is also called "real ale" because of a campaign in the 1970s to promote a type of beer that was matured in its dispense container for a second fermentation. It's got less carbonation than other beers, and is unfiltered and unpasteurized. This campaign was most likely a rejection of the sterile stainless casks that came about in the 1950s and '60s.

Today there are more bars and breweries offering real ale in Canada, such as Toronto's Amsterdam, Bellwoods and Great Lakes. This weekend, Cask Days will give beer lovers a taste of 200 cask-conditioned ales from over 100 Canadian microbreweries, plus 50 cask ales from the UK, served alongside food from Bar Isabel, Parts & Labour and Ceili Cottage.

Saturday's tickets are sold out; there may be some left for Sunday.

Where is your favourite bar to sip on quality suds? Leave your reco's in the comments below or email tips to toronto@eater.com!

· Cask Days Beer Festival Moves to Brickworks, Welcomes True British Cask Ale [Star]
· Golden Tap Awards [Official Site]
· Cask Days 2013: Gummy Bear Beer, Plus Five More Weird and Wonderful Brews Coming to This Year's Festival [Toronto Life]

Bar Volo

587 Yonge Street Toronto ON