The new Cask Report, launched today, has found that Brits want their cask to be cool.

In the midst of Cask Ale Week, the 2018-19 Cask Report has unearthed research into the drink’s popularity, its demographic, and its future.

People love the idea of real ale, believing the traditional hand pumps to be a vital part of a good pub. But despite its quintessential British character and fantastic taste, sales for real ale are decreasing and pubs are still closing at a rate of 18 a week. The Cask Report 2018/19, focused on the pub and beer industries, lays out the reasons for declining sales in Cask Ale (6.8% in the past year alone); explains why it matters; and points to ways of reversing the decline.

The first explanation concerns a lack of interest from younger drinkers. There are now 2,500 breweries in Britain, between them producing over 10,000 different cask beers a year. But in spite of this, the Report finds that an astonishing two thirds of 18 to 24 year olds have never tried a single one of them. 

Editor Matt Eley says: “There’s a job to be done to engage these younger drinkers, as well as older ones, in this fantastic drink – and to reduce the risk to pubs in the process. You can’t buy real ale from a shop. The only places you can get it are pubs and bars. That’s why it’s so important. Thriving sales of cask ale can help keep pubs open.

As a delicious, fresh product with no added gas, it should be in growing, not shrinking demand. It ticks all the boxes for people who care about the environment, ingredients, naturalness and taste. Sales should be rocketing!”

Credit: Cask Ale Report 2018/19

But report findings on temperature may also hold some of the answers. Real ale should be served at a cool, not chilled, 11-13 degrees celcius –  that’s cooler than red wine, but not as cold as lager or keg ales. But research showed just over two thirds of pubs are selling pints at above 13 degrees in the summer. The Report also found that just under two thirds of cask drinkers would prefer their beer served even colder than the recommended 11 degrees. 

Paul Nunny of beer quality scheme Cask Marque says that this finding is worth exploring, but that the first step is for pubs to get their beer to recommended specification. Paul says: “If people could trust every pub serving cask to serve it at 11-13 degrees, even on the hottest day of the year, it would revolutionise perceptions. People would get the full refreshment value – and realise that far from being “warm”, real ale is cool – and delicious. 

“It might take only one warm pint to put someone off cask ale for life. So pubs need to support each other by having all their staff working to the highest standards all the time, presenting cool cask and brilliant beer each and every time.”

He explains that Cask Marque will be launching a ‘Making Cask Cool’ campaign to encourage licensees and bar-staff to become beer-temperature aware. In the bid to galvanise the industry into action, 10,000 extra mystery drinker visits will be added to the 22,000 visits already carried out by Cask Marque assessors each year. Cask Marque will be challenging any licensee who isn’t controlling the temperature of beer in the glass.

Paul adds: “Bar staff should taste the beers for themselves. Licensees should then be encouraging them to offer samples of different real ales for customers to try. They should target those younger customers whose default socialising might otherwise be at home; who are unlikely to have tried cask beer; who may not have a very positive view of it, but who may find themselves unexpected converts.

“We will win these challenges. We have to. The future of the sector depends on it.”

The report also includes sections on what is classed as the typical ‘Cask Occasion’ and what a Cask Ale reboot could learn from the renaissance of vinyl and gin.

Download the new Report here

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