Every so often, a firkin doesn't go as planned. Scott Francis, brewmaster at Barley's, has seen a few of these small keg-like containers geyser suds onto the ceiling.

Every so often, a firkin doesn't go as planned.

Scott Francis, brewmaster at Barley's, has seen a few of these small keg-like containers geyser suds onto the ceiling. Once an over-carbonated jug sent ale all the way to the front door, giving one customer half a pint or so en route.

Thankfully, most firkins turn out just fine - and it's magic when they do.

"It's hard to put into words," Francis said minutes before tapping a batch of Alexander's Russian Imperial Stout last Friday. "There are people who know it religiously - they know what's going to be in our firkins every week."

For those unfamiliar with real, cask-conditioned ale, Firkin Fridays at Barley's feature five- or 10-gallon containers of unfiltered, unpasteurized ale that contain only natural ingredients and no added carbon dioxide.

They gain unique character from a second fermentation in the cask and enter your pint glass simply by gravity. Because the beer is technically alive - meaning it contains active yeast - you've usually got less than 40 hours to finish it.

Barley's celebrates the cask-conditioned tradition every Friday, starting at 11 a.m., at both the Short North and Grandview locations. The containers are usually empty before last call.

"Everything, except for modern medicine, is better the way the old guys did it," Francis said.

Selections change every week, so you might enjoy a modified version of a pub favorite one week and a one-off concoction seven days later. This Friday, you can savor a firkin of Centennial IPA at the Short North spot and Sumer Wheat Ale in Grandview.

In addition to hearkening back to the way beer used to be, Firkin Fridays draw those craving craft drafts at their most intimate and unfettered.

"I come in whenever I can," said Dave Starner, a salesman from Reynoldsburg. "It's something that other bars don't have available on a regular basis."