Poor quality beer and declining sales are the depressing findings of the 2019 Cask Report. 

The annual snapshot of the fortunes of cask ale found seven out of 10 cask drinkers real ale drinkers have been served an off pint, which, the report says, stops many people (40 per cent) from going back to the pub. 

However, the report is not all gloom. Specialist cask venues are outperforming the beer market and community, rural and food pubs are more likely to be the “right kind of pub” for cask beer. 

And sales of premium cask beers, defined as stronger than 4.5 per cent ABV, are growing. 

The report also found the average number of cask brands on the bar has fallen from 4.4 to 2.8 in two years, with competition for space on the bar intense and six out of 10 drinkers believe cask beer should be priced higher than mainstream lager. 

CAMRA chief executive Tom Stainer said: “It’s clear from the report cask still faces a lot of challenges, but there are signs we should be feeling positive. 

“The decline in sales may be showing signs of halting and premium cask is back into growth. It’s not a time to be complacent, however, as the industry still faces the same issues about ensuring quality, training staff and marketing cask to drinkers in a more effective way. 

“The encouraging signs can only be realised if we continue to campaign to improve quality in all pubs, help more drinkers understand what makes cask so special and continue to encourage people to visit pubs – the only places you can get cask ale.” 

Cask Marque director Paul Nunny said: “If you can’t get the quality r i g h t , please don’t stock cask. Get it right and build a name for your pub on the back of it. Get the selection of beers right for the size, type and location of the pub that you run. Involve your staff, making sure they are well trained, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and watch your sales grow. 

“As our research shows, that’s what is happening in successful cask pubs where licensees care about their beer.” 

On the cost of cask, Cask Report editor Matt Eley said: “The most perplexing thing is the price difference between craft keg beers and cask beers. 

“Drinkers are paying, on average, £1.50 per pint more for craft keg than they are for cask. Given all that goes into creating a great pint of cask ale, it’s strange there is so little equivalence.” 

For a copy of the report go to www. cask-marque.co.uk 

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