Peaches, cherries, vanilla beans, pecans—if given a chance to make your own beer, what would you choose? These are just a handful of ingredients offered to the 80 guest brewers of Sweetwater Brewery’s Brew Your Cask Off cask ale festival on March 2nd. I missed the first event last year but I’m excited to check out this year’s edition.

Cask ale or cask-conditioned beer is the term for unfiltered and unpasteurized beer which is conditioned (including secondary fermentation) and served from a cask without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure. In layman’s terms? It’s creamy, delicious and very fresh.

Recently all of the guest brewers gathered at Sweetwater near Midtown Atlanta to create their casks for the festival and I had the chance to follow a couple of them around (retailer Tower, Mellow Mushroom restaurant) Taco Mac, the charity Project Open Hand and Georgia Ale & Lager Sirens (GALS).

Every team was paired with a mentor from Sweetwater Brewery and guided through the process with ingredients selected ahead of time.

Eric & Adam from Tower with Sweetwater Brewer

The folks at Tower went minimal with a few select ingredients, hops, coffee and vanilla beans. The guys I met from Mellow Mushroom had too many ingredients for me to count. As far as which team made the right decision? They’ll all have to wait for the day of the event to taste their creations along with judges and festivalgoers.

Sweetwater Brewer & Mellow Mushroom teammates adding oak chips to their cask

Entries will be judged at the festival which runs from 6-10pm and led by brewmster at Savannah’s Moon River Brewing Company. The winning casks will be announced at 9pm, the evening of the festival. Entries will also be available for festival goers to sample and vote for the People’s Champ Award. The judges’ top four casks and the People’s Champ will have their casks recreated and served at the SweetWater 420 Fest April 15-17 in Candler Park.

For more details and to purchase tickets – check out the festival website. Photos from last year’s event are available on Sweetwater’s Flickr page.

For outtakes — check out the face books