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Promoting great British beer the Punch Taverns way

On 13/11/14 by Andy Slee (External Affairs & Central Operations Director, Punch Taverns)

As a pubco with nearly 4,000 pubs across the country, we’re in a great position to promote cask ale. Over the past few years, we’ve focused on getting better and better at it – aiming to benefit the industry and our Partners, as well as Punch Taverns. Winning Beer Champion 2014 at this year’s British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) awards is a very welcome milestone. It shows we’re getting it right.

We champion cask ale by making it available. All our established pubs get the chance to join our Finest Cask scheme and, with higher sales volumes, Partners can opt for a rotation of 16 regional beers every eight weeks – that’s more than 100 beers a year. Our most successful cask ale houses get access to more than 3,000 locally brewed cask ales through the Direct Delivery Scheme we set up via the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

But availability is only part of the story. We also provide far-reaching support to our Partners to give them the knowledge and skills they need to keep and serve their ales. When they join Punch Taverns, we help them set up their cellars. Once they’re up and running, we provide continuing in-house training and encouragement around staff training.

We also help Partners to develop their cask ale customer base through our ‘Try Before You Buy’ and ‘Third-of-a-Pint’ promotions – taking the risk out of trying something new and letting customers sample three different beers for the price of a pint.

Our efforts peak each year around Cask Ale Week, with our exclusive ‘Free Pint’ promotion. The scheme is entirely run and funded by Punch Taverns, and involves getting third parties to offer up to 140,000 free pint vouchers for use at our Finest Cask pubs. We provide a dedicated website and a media campaign to support the event.

Our success can be measured by the 70% of Punch Partners who regularly buy cask beer and the 1,117 Punch pubs that are now Cask Marque accredited – making us the largest supporter in the industry of this independent quality standard. Then there are the 263 Punch pubs that made it into the Good Beer Guide last year.

More importantly for us, our Partners are enthusiastic too. In a phone survey of 103 of the pubs that took part in Cask Ale Week last year, 96% said they would do so again.

We’re delighted with our BBPA award because it recognises how far we have come. The fact is, we now outperform the market when it comes to British cask beers. One in five of the pints being pulled in our pubs is a British cask ale – while the market average is one in seven. We think that’s really something to celebrate.

Annual Dinner Punch

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