Every Thursday night, Karl Strauss Brewery has a Cask Night. Yes, every Thursday night at each of their six brewery restaurants. They used to have them monthly, but with such a huge following, they've upped it to weekly. Good for them! And good for us.
We visited the La Jolla Karl Strauss on April Fool's Day where cask night featured the Big Barrel Double IPA (pictured in the pint glass) - "An intense West Coast IPA for hop lovers. Abundant imported New Zealand hops give this medium-bodied ale fruity citrus and white grape-like flavors over a firm maltiness. It finishes dry with a lingering bitterness." Mark loved it and ordered two. In addition, I ordered the Conquistador Doppelbock, "a robust German-style lager with rich caramel and toasted malt flavors, underscored by a plum-like fruit character and warm finish." Any beer that highlights malt, especially toasted malt, count me in.
So what is cask beer? Typically, cask beer is brewed from traditional ingredients and is matured in the cask from which it is served. That leads to a fresh and unfiltered beer with a unique flavor, since it is void of any additional carbon dioxide or other chemical treatments. Pure unadulterated beer.
Of course I wanted some food to go along with this liquid delight and for April, the chefs at Karl Strauss are pairing their Big Barrel Double IPA with Thai Street Tacos - spicy green curry chicken, fresh Thai basil, cilantro, peanuts, iceberg lettuce cups, and cucumber relish. These refreshing bites were the perfect compliment to the bitter hoppiness of the Double IPA. We didn't stop there. It was happy hour, so several of their appetizers are nearly half off. Next, we ordered the Beer Braised Sausage Sampler that comes with Hungarian kielbasa, Bratwurst, beer soaked raisins, and house made beer mustard.
The sausages are nestled on a wonderful apple slaw that adds a crunchy texture when eaten with the moist sausages. Hard to tell the raisins were soaked in beer, but when I ate one individually, the beer flavor did come through. Next time, we may ask for some additional mustard on the side (it was yummy), since this is probably our current favorite appetizer.
To partake in one of Karl Strauss's Cask Nights, my recommendation would be to come early, see the cask get tapped, and take advantage of the happy hour prices. At the La Jolla location, happy hour is 4-6:30pm, with $3.50 beers (cask beer is $3.50 also, until it runs out) and appetizer specials. In addition, I believe they let a fellow beer-loving customer tap the cask if they want to. On our short drive home, we drove by the beach only to experience another gorgeous San Diego sunset over the ocean. If you are local, I urge you to try the Cask Night at Karl Strauss - you won't be disappointed!