The annual Cask Report kicked off Cask Ale Week yesterday by revealing how discerning taste is benefitting Britain’s national drink and how women and younger drinkers are contributing to its growth.
People are drinking less and going out less, but when they do go out, they are choosing their beers more carefully – and cask ale is a main beneficiary. So says Pete Brown, author of the Cask Report.
The launch of the Report this week was timed to coincide with the start of Cask Ale Week, a countrywide celebration of Britain’s national drink. The report shows how people are turning increasingly to cask ale in the search of flavour, natural ingredients and craft production methods.
“There has been a sea-change in attitudes towards cask ale over the past few years,” says Pete, “which explains why it’s now out-performing the beer market by 6.8%.
“It’s completely lost its image as an old man’s drink and now appeals to a broad range of drinkers, male and female, young and old. 63% of licensees say it’s attracting younger customers into their pub and a similar number say that more women are drinking it. More people see it as crafted product made from natural British ingredients and like the fact that it’s available only in the pub. This is great news for all those who care about the future of the British pub since it helps guarantee a new generation of drinkers who will help keep pubs relevant – and open!”
Pete points out that over 10,000 pubs held beer festivals during 2012, encouraging people to try out cask ale and modernising its image. “With all the extra beers on offer in each of those pubs during the festivals, that’s not only a lot of sales generated; it’s also a good illustration of why the market is fragmenting and new breweries are opening.”
184 new breweries have opened during the past year, some microplants in the brewhouses of regional brewers and others in pubs or converted buildings, on industrial estates or in the heart of the countryside.
“People love the opportunity to support local breweries,” says Pete, “but aren’t looking exclusively for beers from their own region. In fact 70% of drinkers would like to try beers from different parts of the country more often. This provides a great opportunity for pubs to diversify their range – and for the country’s 1,150 breweries to sell beyond their own doorstep.”
Activities for Cask Ale Week, which runs from 27th September to 6th October, range from master classes in ale tasting to beer quizzes, meet the brewer evenings, beer festivals, sampling and free pint offers. Even the Eden Project is hosting events. The theme for the Week is The Great Big Taste Challenge.
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