Peach Report

Cask ale can lift pubs—report

26 September, 2011

Real ale is vital to the future of pubs in the UK, the annual Cask Report has argued. The 2011-12 report cites research suggesting that cask ale drinkers are twice as likely to visit the pub as their non-cask drinking counterparts.

They are also higher spenders in pubs, and are less likely than lager drinkers to switch their drinking to home because of cheaper supermarket and off-licence deals.

The Cask Report also revealed the popularity of ale in the UK beer market. Cask sales slipped by 2% in 2010—but that was a sound performance compared to the fall of 7.8% for on-trade beer sales as a whole. Cask now accounts for nearly one in six pints sold in the UK, and an estimated 7.8 million people drank it last year—an 11% rise over the last three years.

Consumer research for the report found that numbers of women and younger drinkers trying cask are both increasing—exploding the image of ale as a preserve of older men. It found that 69% of ale drinkers are in the ABC1 social class, while one in six is female. About 38% live in London or the south east.

Beer writer and report author Pete Brown (pictured) said: “Cask ale can help pubs to not only survive, but to thrive.  It’s attracting new drinkers who spend more in the pub than non-cask drinkers, making them valuable customers. And, as our report reveals, cask is shaking off its historic ‘flat cap’ image and is instead seen by younger consumers as a ‘cool’ drink.  This increasingly positive picture of cask can only be good news for the pubs who sell it.”

Brown called on the industry to market ale more effectively, taking advantage of its ‘retro’ appeal. “Licensees who know who their cask drinkers are can market it to them more effectively. Old-school, retro imagery will hit all the right buttons with new cask drinkers.” Restaurants as well as pubs are missing out on incremental sales by not pushing beer with food sales, the report added.

The Cask Report is backed by groups including the Campaign for Real Ale, the Society of Independent Brewers and the Cask Marque Trust. It was launched in London on Monday (26 September) ahead of National Cask Ale Week, which runs from 1 to 9 October. Around 7,500 pubs will be joining in the week by offering free tasters of ale.

For more about the report, click here.