The Cask Report 2011-12

The Cask Report 2011-12 is out today and, as usual, makes for interesting reading. Despite very tough economic times and the government’s continuing war on pubs and drinkers, there are still some promising signs:
  •  Despite a 7.8% drop in overall on-trade beer sales, cask sustained only an estimated 2% drop. This disparity helps explain the fact that cask actually increased its share of the on-trade market to 15%.
  • Cask ale is more widely available than ever. A 4% increase in distribution in 2010 led it to being available in an additional 2500 outlets.
Of course, not everything is rosy-the 35% rise in duty over three years has a lot to answer for, but, in a declining market, the evidence is there that cask ale is still punching above its weight.

The report contains some interesting statistics: 69% of cask drinkers now fall within the ABC1 demographic. So perhaps Tony Blair was right after all and we are all middle class now? There’s also an attempt to clear up some of the still prevailing myths: cask drinkers aren’t set in their ways, and numbers of young drinkers of cask are growing.

Quality is also rightly seen as a key issue and research seems to back my belief that 3-4 handpulls is generally the ideal. It wisely avoids getting down bogged down in price issues, as it did last year, but there are still some abnormalities; “46% of cask drinkers recognise the Cask Marque as an indicator of quality”. Er, doesn’t that mean 54% don’t?

On a personal note, one of my haunts: the Black Bull, makes it into the report demonstrating the potential that cask can have. However, modesty prevents me from claiming all the responsibility for the 1737% increase in sales since they reintroduced cask into the pub...


michael-j said…
re: Cask Marque - not necessarily - you'd need to consider the number that aren't aware of it and those who feel ambivalent
Tyson said…
Yes, so 54% are either unaware of it or don't think it's a sign of quality. The statement that 54% of cask drinkers-the majority, for whatever reason, don't see it as a sign of quality is still valid.
Martin Ward said…
Did you see the bit about serving real ale at 8 degrees? Surely that's far too cold?
Cask Marque said…
re Cask Marque - if you asked 100 people whether they were humans or monkeys, 20% would say they aren't sure so that immediately reduces the figure!
Saying that, we know we still have a long way to go in educating the consumer. The 46% figure was up considerably from when we did the previous survey and we are doing another one shortly which will (fingers crossed) show another increase. Alastair, Cask Marque
Cask Marque said…
And re 8 degree beer, Cask Marque recommends 11-13 degrees for cask ales. Some brewers however, recognising a trend towards colder beer are brewing beers which can withstand chill hazes at lower temperatures. Apparently this is what the customer is demanding, although I will leave you to debate that one!
Tyson said…

Of course, that's right and 46% is far better than 0%:) Personally I think the CM temperature scale should be a wee bit narrower as 13 degrees is too high. As for having one beer at 8 degrees, it 's an interesting idea, but wouldn't that then mean people regard the others as warm?

I recall trying the first of these lower temp beers many years ago, but they never seemed to go anywhere.
Cask Marque said…
Well our temperature range is actually 11-13 +/- 1 degree so it's even wider! We try and implement the standards which the majority of brewers recommend for their products so as and when these move I guess we will move with them.

We would like to have stricter guidelines but as with everything it is a balancing act; for us this is between only identifying pubs serving great beer against punishing pubs when standards make the slightest slip.

We had a pub left the scheme the other day because he couldn't handle the fact that even though 3 of his beers were perfect, one of them was slightly cold but also had a chill haze - the beer failed even though generally his standards were excellent.

Anyway, enough of my rambling! Cooler beer will be with us, just a matter of time.

Cheers Al

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