The brewing giant is offering customers more choice on cask by highlighting the “huge” portfolio it can tap into, from its own brands produced by the Caledonian Brewing Company in Edinburgh to ales accessed by joint ventures with the likes of Theakston’s in North Yorkshire and reciprocal supply deals with regional brewers.
Each month, the Cask Orders scheme will allow customers to buy brews from more than 20 local and national UK breweries, with a total of 42 on offer between now and August.
The changing, monthly offer will be underpinned, Heineken said, by a range of ‘classic’ national and regional beers which will be available throughout the year.
The first issue of Cask Orders features two guest ales from Scotland – the Flying Scotsman and Caledonian Nectar from the Caley brewery.
Deuchars IPA, Caledonian’s multiple award-winning cask ale, will be on permanent offer.
To support the range, Heineken has devised a solution to the practical challenge of ensuring stockists have the correct badges for the ales on the bar top.
A new hand-pump clip has been designed which includes a space for the operator to insert labels illustrating product details, which are sent to the bar in the post as soon as an order is placed. It also comes with ‘Cyclops’ tasting notes and information on the beers designed to engage drinkers at the point of purchase.
John Gemmell (pictured top), trading director north at Heineken UK, said the new focus on cask comes at a good time for the category, suggesting it offers an opportunity for the trade in Scotland to catch up on the rest of the UK in terms of realising the potential of the market.
“The category is showing growth at a total UK level and there’s quite a lot of interest being shown in cask, particularly in food-led outlets,” he told SLTN. “Scotland is slightly different on cask – the market is slightly more limited and tends to be bigger in the east coast than the west.
“We have access to a huge range of cask ales, which come from three areas: our own Caledonian Brewery; cask ales we get through joint ventures, for example with Theakston’s and Courage Best; and through a whole variety of regional brewers we sell beer to.”
Despite the potential offered by cask, Gemmell does not envisage Heineken moving to acquire smaller brewers in the UK. “I don’t see it happening,” he said. “We’ve got access to ales from literally every town and region across the UK, from national and regional cask ales all the way through to very localised ones.
“The combination of our own ales, joint ventures and other brewers we have reciprocal agreements with gives us more than enough access.”
Licensees who take part in the Cask Orders scheme can take advantage of a range of promotional offers, including free staff garments and glassware, golf merchandise and the chance to a win trip aboard the Flying Scotsman locomotive.