Pubs are missing potential of cask

Report says craft beer is an opportunity for cask ale as well

• Licensees are not fully exploiting the potential of cask ale in their premises.

By Graeme Murray

DESPITE the overlap of the cask ale and craft beer categories, the trade is failing to realise cask’s true potential, a new report has claimed.

The Cask Report 2014-15 by beer writer Pete Brown wants licensees to get the most out of cask ale and take advantage of the craft beer boom.
In his foreword, Brown sets out his arguments about the similarities between cask ales and craft beers.
“Our research does not strictly define craft beer, but does highlight its most meaningful characteristics,” said Brown.
“It shows that for most people, craft beer is not related to format, style or origin – it’s more about beer brewed by small brewers or beer brewed in small batches.
“That’s a description that applies equally to most of the cask ales brewed in the UK.”
Figures show that production of and interest in cask ale has continued to grow.
According to the report, 170 new breweries opened in the UK last year. The number of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) members, meanwhile, climbed to 170,000.
The report also estimated 18,800 cask ales were on sale in the UK every year.
But it claims drink definitions are debatable as many high-profile craft brewers package the same beers in cask and keg.
“While we cannot say that craft beer and cask ale are synonymous, we can say that craft beer is not defined by format or beer style,” said Brown.
“Craft beer and cask ale are not exactly the same, but there is a huge degree of overlap between them: many craft beers are cask ales, and many cask ales are craft beers.”
The report also argued cask ales are undervalued. Craft keg beer carries an average price of £4.04 per pint while craft cask ale is just £3.19 a pint.
Brown added: “The opportunity for the publican is to sell more craft beer in all formats – especially cask – by taking advantage of the demand for premium, flavourful beers produced on smaller runs.”