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Cask Ale Week round-up: how beer is championing the British pub industry

On 08/10/13

As Cask Ale Week 2013 draws to a close, commentator for Admiral Taverns Laura Moulden, discusses the significance of the event’s ‘Introduce a Friend’ theme for the British pub industry…

Cask Ale Week comes to a close for another year, with an estimated 2,800 pubs calling last orders on a host of events dedicated to the cause. This year’s ‘introduce a friend’ theme has been inspiring brewers and pubs alike to open their doors for beer festivals, tasting sessions, competitions, quizzes and free samples in an attempt to get more people on the beery bandwagon.

Whilst there has been a substantial increase in the amount of interest in cask, people are going to the pub much less than they used to. Around 25 per cent of pub goers report that they go to the pub much less than they have in the past.

But with ale aficionados CAMRA estimating that just one extra pint per regular beer drinker every month would be enough to push the beer industry back into growth, just what can publicans do to roll up their sleeves and help turn the tide?

Educate and inspire new drinkers
People are undoubtedly both drinking and going out less. But what’s becoming increasingly apparent is that when they do go out, they’re more discerning about taste. According to Phil Brown, author of the annual Cask Report, 63 per cent of licensees believe cask is attracting younger customers into their pub, with similar numbers saying that women are also drinking it.

But the beverage’s vast array of flavours can leave novices reluctant to try something that they potentially won’t like. Pubs that operate a ‘try before you buy’ policy or tasting notes can actively encourage new patrons to become acquainted with the national beverage, and the good news is that last year, around 10,000 (33 per cent) cask ale pubs hosted their own beer festivals.

Support for independent brewers
Cask ale’s resurgence can in part be attributed to the keen trend for craft beer that’s currently sweeping the industry. Spearheaded by independent breweries like BrewDog and TinyRebel, the renaissance period of craft brewing in the States seems to be rapidly reaching our shores. There are now 1,147 breweries in the UK – more than at any time since the 1930s and 57 per cent of pubs now serve cask on bar – an increase of 4 per cent in the last four years.

Pubs should ensure they serve an array of interesting brews – whilst not neglecting to offer a good selection of lager brands – to ride the wave and give punters something to head to the pub for.

If you’re still thinking of matted beards and socks with sandals, think again. Recently, more and more bars have taken on the hop by adding beer-based cocktails to their menus.

This adventurous new way of sampling brews has prompted the Good Food Guide to label them the drink of 2013. So get down the pub and order yourself a Black Velvet; your national beverage needs you.


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