| Cask ale


I’ve been working for the last six months on the cross-industry ‘Drink Cask Free’ campaign, which aims to make cask ale more relevant to a younger audience who only drink it now and then. Here’s the press release we just issued about the camapaign. It contains links to download the presentation slides and a video of my presentation yesterday.

There’s growing interest in cask ale amongst younger drinkers, according to the results of a test campaign by a cross-industry coalition, as issues like freshness, craft and local provenance top the list of priorities when choosing drink and food options.

The campaign was designed to make cask ale more noticeable and relevant to drinkers younger than its core base. It succeeded in making cask more visible on the bar, prompting conversations among drinkers and staff, and generating sampling activity. In some pubs this translated into increased sales.

Consumer research found that people do not hold the long-parroted stereotypes about cask ale. They see it as a more considered, mellow, flavourful drink that’s perfect for slower tempo occasions. They like and respect its tradition and heritage, and are even more interested in the fact that it is often locally produced on a smaller, more hand-crafted scale than big lager brands, and offers a wide variety of flavours and styles.

The main reason they don’t drink cask more often is that it’s increasingly less visible on the bar, which is where they often decide what to drink. All other draught beers are now served at eye level, from tal fonts, into branded glassware. Cask is falling behind in the visibility arms race, and needs to catch up. The product, and the variety it boasts, needs to be celebrated visually.       

Campaign coordinator Pete Brown said, “As we’ve seen before in all the research on cask, there are no deeply held prejudices against cask ale. What we’ve learned from this pilot are some specific fixes in-outlet. It’s clear that the vibrant line-up of cask, with constantly changing guest ales, is part of its appeal. But this also means that the issues would be best solved at a category level, with the industry working together to promote the visibility and relevance of cask as a whole.”    

The summary presentation of the Drink Cask Fresh campaign is available here: https://we.tl/t-zx1bpnzivd

A video pf Pete Brown presenting it, followed by Q&A at the trade day of this year’s Great British Beer Festival, can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/849416299/50082713ad?share=copy

The collective behind the trial are now urging the cask and hospitality industries to fund a national roll-out of the campaign later this year or in early 2024.   




  • The pilot phase of the Drink Cask Fresh campaign ran from w/c 6th March to w/c 8th May.  
  • The campaign comprised of 20 pilot pubs, each with a paired control pub, similar in profile and cask sales, and measuring the difference between them over the pilot period As well as examining sales data, qualitative market research was undertaken with pub staff and with drinkers, to understand exactly how the campaign was working.  
  • Drink Cask Fresh was co-founded by SIBA’s Head of Comms and Marketing Neil Walker, and former CAMRA Senior Communications Manager Katie Wiles. Writer and consultant Pete Brown succeeded Katie Wiles as Project Manager. Creative work was by Ape Creative and campaign research was undertaken by Jane Lyons of Research Management & Consultancy.
  • The pilot campaign was funded by Arkells, Asahi, BBPA, CAMRA, Greene King, Harveys, Hogs Back, IFBB, Lincoln Green, Robinsons Brewery, Sharps, Shepherd Neame, SIBA, Timothy Taylors, and Wadworth.
  • The project was supported by breweries, pub groups and organisations across the beer and hospitality industries, including Admiral Taverns, the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, the BII, Black Sheep, Camerons, CAMRA, Cask Marque, Festival Glass, Greene King, Harvey’s, Lincoln Green, McMullens, Robinsons, Sharps, Shepherd Neame, SIBA, Star Pubs & Bars, Three Acres, Titanic, and Wells & Co.
  • The organisers would love to hear from anyone wishing to help support the campaign as it rolls out beyond its pilot phase to become a national campaign. To get involved, find out further information, or get more comment or imagery, please contact petebrownsemail@gmail.comjane.eason@camra.org.uk, or head to www.drinkcaskfresh.co.uk.

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