Cask ale is kind of like seeing your favorite band live at Coachella. Bottled beer? Sort of like streaming it on periscope. Not only is cask ale a real living thing; it’s fresh, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated, and, if done properly, is super bright and delicious. Sadly, not a lot of places in Orange County serve cask ales. Although it is somewhat of niche of a niche, the style of beer is making a slow and calculated comeback in Orange County.
New bar owner David Mora, co-owner of a craft beer dive in La Habra called Cask & Hammer, shows all that’s needed to pour proper cask ale is a small kegerator, a shiny-new beer engine and a little bit of arm strength to pull the beer into an imperial pint glass.
What made you choose La Habra for a craft beer bar?
There’s a huge hole in craft beer up here, plus it’s on the borderline of LA and OC, which allows us to invite local brewers from across SoCal to come in and share their passion with our customers.
What inspired you to have a fresh cask tapped?
One of the first thing I look for in a beer bar is a cask beer engine. Most of the time these engines only get pumped a handful of times a year. The soft mouthfeel from lower carbonation and the flavors and aromas achieved from cellar temperature is incredible. Local breweries are producing some really great casks and I can’t wait to help spread the appreciation of cask ale!
Does your place have food?
We don’t have a kitchen but customers are more than welcome to bring in their own food. We have a few really great spots nearby. Moros Cuban Restaurant is a few doors down and their Cubano sandwiches are amazing. We’ll also have snacks like roasted peanuts and pretzels available to munch on.
On opening night (Friday, July 24, though they’re still in soft mode) we had a Mother Earth Cali Creamin Vanilla Cream on Nitro and Drakes Dry Stout. We’ll see these two taps rotating pretty often.
What kind of service system do you have for the cask?
Andy Black, head brewer at Macleod Ale (LA’s British-style brewery), was nice enough to sit with me to talk cask ale. The brewery he designed is stunning and he offered great insight on cask service. I’m using a dedicated cooler to keep the cask at cellar temperature (55F) along with a cask breather to maintain the beer condition. Beer is pumped from a gorgeous Angram hand pump.
With 30 other craft beer taps, what percentage will be local?
The majority of our taps will be local: L.A., Orange County, and San Diego. But we’ll also host delicious brews that come down from NorCal and the Pacific Northwest.
How many IPA-centric beers will you have?
With 30 taps, you can count on a nice variety of big IPAs. At the same time, however, I want to focus on having a tap list with diversity. Our craft beer scene is evolving and customers are appreciating the entire range of beer styles breweries have to offer.
What kind of glassware do you have? Will it differ per beer?
We’re using Imperial Pint Glasses (19.2 oz). Customers can be confident that they are getting a true pint of beer with proper head. We’ll also serve in tulips and snifters depending on beer style. You can also create your own flight of four 5-ounce pours.
Do you have any cicerone-trained beer servers?
Yes! The bartenders we’ve brought aboard love brews as much as we do and we have two certified beer servers on staff. Our goal is to have the entire staff certified in a couple of weeks.
Cask & Hammer // 334 N. Harbor Blvd, La Habra
Find cask beer locally at:
- Noble Ale Works – Daily
- The Bruery Tasting Room – 1st Friday of the month
- Pizza Port San Clemente – Wednesdays
- Tustin Brewing Company – Fridays