UK premises need to put more emphasis on the cellar, claims Cask Marque
SCOTLAND is the worst part of the UK for serving warm pints, claims accreditation and training organisation Cask Marque.
The body’s latest Beer Quality Report, produced in conjunction with draught specialist Vianet, cites Scottish pubs as the worst offenders when it comes to serving beer at too warm a temperature, ahead of Greater London, Yorkshire & Humberside, north west England and east England.
Pubs in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dumfries were said to be particularly poor with regard to the temperature of their pints.
And the report puts the blame squarely on poor cellar management.
It said there is a “clear correlation” between the ambient temperature of the cellar and beer being served too warm.
This is a particular issue during the summer months, said the report, and is reflected in a spike in cellar temperatures during the summer.
The report said: “Cooling equipment is set up to chill beer to a set specification, so any fluctuations to the ambient temperature puts real pressure on these systems to cope.”
It went on to state that one in four UK pubs experienced a ‘major temperature issue’ – defined as a pub serving more than a fifth of all its beer too warm – during 2016.
Leased and tenanted pubs were said to have experienced the most issues but, overall, a third of all British pubs struggled to keep their cellars at the right temperature.
Cask Marque advises the optimum ‘in-glass’ temperature for cask beer is between 11 and 13 degrees Celsius, keg beer and lager as between five and eight degrees and ‘extra cold’ products as between two and five degrees.
The report advises licensees to check the temperature of their beer on at least a weekly basis to ensure it’s within the right temperature range and to have a wall thermometer in the cellar to track ambient temperatures.
Vents and grills on the cooler should be free from dust or obstructions and cooler water levels checked regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly.
Beer lines should be cooled to the point of dispense.
Temperature wasn’t the only cellar management issue highlighted by the report.
Line cleaning was another area where pubs across the UK were said to be falling flat.
The north east and north west of England were said to be the best parts of the UK for clean beer lines, but even in these areas 27% and 30% of lines tested were found to be unclean.
In Scotland, 34% of lines were unclean, making it the sixth-best region of the UK for clean lines.
Across the draught categories of cider, stout, premium lager, standard lager, kegged ale and cask ale Scotland was broadly in line with the UK average in terms of cleanliness, with cider accounting for the dirtiest lines, followed by stout and standard lager.
Although Scotland overall was said to be average in terms of clean lines, Motherwell was singled out as one of the places in the UK where pub customers are least likely to get a good pint.
In total, the report claims pubs are missing out on an average of £14,600 a year in profit through poor beer quality, with £709 million lost across the UK as a whole.
Cask Marque director Paul Nunny said the report shows that “the message is not getting through” to pubs about the importance of beer quality.
“This is a damning report on the quality offer to consumers,” said Nunny.
“Findings from our own recent research showed that 49% of pubs are not meeting Cask Marque standards; thank goodness nearly 10,000 pubs can.
“It remains vital for the future of the category we don’t disappoint customers when it comes to serving a perfect pint, every time.”
Steven Alton, managing director of Vianet, said the report “lays bare the profit opportunity for all operators across the pub sector”.
“The message is good operators could have better businesses by driving up retail standards and, in turn, help safeguard the future of the category and keep pubs attractive to consumers,” said Alton.
“Draught beer remains in value growth and beer still accounts for about seven in ten drinks sold in pubs.
“However, the findings in our report provide a much-needed reality check and demonstrate the category’s continued health could be threatened by quality failings.”