Cask beer – or real ale – is outperforming every other beer style. It’s returned to volume growth. The number of women drinking it has doubled year on year. It creates a unique ‘value chain’ that helps pubs become more profitable.
All this and more is featured in the Cask Report, which I’m launching with a press conference at Brew Wharf tonight.
This is the third year I’ve been invited to write this annual report, backed by micro, family and regional brewers, Cask Marque, CAMRA and SIBA. I got paid for writing it – hell, it takes four months to do – but I strive to remain independent while doing so.
The first cask report (then called The Intelligent Choice) showed that cask ale wasn’t doing quite as badly as everyone thought – it was declining by no more than the beer market generally.
Last year we showed it was declining at a much lower rate than other beers.
This year we’re revealing what will hopefully become a return to volume growth – cask grew by 1% in the first six months of 2009, and current trends suggest it will show a full year of growth by December. Remarkable given all the shit pubs are currently having to contend with.
This demonstrates that the taste for craft-brewed, flavourful beer is no longer confined to a beardy few. Great beer is going mainstream, and that’s a good thing.
The challenge with all this is persuading a few more pubs that there’s something in it for them. cask still sells at a lower price than most beers on the bar. Great for those drinkers on a tight budget, not so great for the publican who’s struggling to make a living.
The Cask Report reveals that cask ale creates a value chain that brings more affluent drinkers to the pub, more often and in greater numbers, who spend more money on everything – not just cask ale – while they’re in there. I’m not arguing that decent cask ale pubs are immune to recession, but they are closing at a much slower rate than pubs generally.
Please read the report, or at least the press release. Tell your friends. Tell your local publican. You rarely hear any good news in the broader beer market these days – and this really is great news.