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Cask Ale Week 2016

Cask Ale Week: A Beginner's Guide

By Sara Hussein , 28-Jul-2016
Last updated on 28-Jul-2016 at 16:28 GMT2016-07-28T16:28:11Z

cask ale week 2016

September sees the return of Cask Ale Week, but why should pubs get involved in the annual event? Sara Hussein reports

What it is?

Cask Ale Week (CAW) is a vital period of the year for pubs, not only is it a week that promotes and celebrates a truly British drink, it also an important platform for operators to promote their business by organising events and activities. Running from Thursday 22 September to Sunday 2 October 2016, all breweries that produce, and all pubs who sell, cask ale can take place in the event for free using the CAW logo. By liaising with the CAW team it is an opportunity for licensees to promote their beer offer, get more customers through the door and boost their sales. Visit www.caskaleweek.co.uk

How can my pub benefit from it?

Cask ale is a fresh natural product that is exclusively available in pubs as the final brewing process takes place in the cellar. As a result, it cannot be replicated at home, or be purchased in supermarkets, and this gives the pub a special touch. CAW therefore is an ideal campaign to inform and educate drinkers as to why they should try it. With cask forecast to hit 20% of on-trade beer by 2020, operators can drive up their cask sales by 10% in volume, according to the Cask Beer Report.

While CAW provides a platform for businesses to promote their beer range, both licensees and their staff can unleash their creativity when it comes to organising events during this period.

Paul Nunny, chair of the Cask Matters Group, which organises CAW, said: “Cask ale drinkers are twice as likely to go to pubs as other drinkers and spend double what others spend there over the course of the year. Any licensee who runs a promotion, or organises an event or activity that encourages new drinkers to try cask ale has the potential to convert someone into a regular and bring another £967 annual income to their pub.”

Tip

Be clear about your objective and decide who you are targeting. Build a marketing plan that captures the buzz around CAW and addresses the interests of your target audience.

How can I get involved?

There are many activities to choose from, from beer festivals to food and drink matching events. We spoke to a few pubs and breweries that took part in last year’s CAW.

Food and drink

Combining food with ale sampling is a key tool to attract non-ale drinkers and here licensees can be creative in what culinary events they could run. One of this year’s Great British Pub Awards finalist The Ropemakers in Bridport, Dorset, had a special menu during CAW last year, with beer used in some of the dishes. Owner John Baker said: “People are more aware of ales on offer, and sales went up by roughly 20.”

Tip

Make sure ale is in very good condition and promote yourself on social media.

Similarly, the Town Hall Tavern in Leeds hosted a beer and cheese tasting event during last years’ CAW which drew large crowds. Working with Timothy Taylor brewery, the event ran after working hours to gather a greater influx of customers. Host Annabel Smith, one of Britain’s first female Beer Sommeliers, entertained customers as staff served local cheese products to accompany the real ales. As she delivered the tasting, customers gave their feedback by promoting the event on social media.


Tip

Get in touch with local producers to see what they offer that can easily pair with beer.

Host a festival 

With a beer festival, operators can combine two major events and really push their products and sales. This is an ideal event that can reap rewards if planned thoroughly: a beer festival in itself is an event that encourages people to attend and, as a result, allows the pub to showcase its range.

During this year’s CAW Robinsons Brewery is working with pubs in Stockport to promote the Stockport Beer Week (Monday 24 September- Friday 4 October), a festival showcasing 20 different beers. A pub crawl will also take place; t-shirts will be distributed to those who visit the pubs taking part in the two overlapping events. 

Marketing director David Bremner said: “We’re merging the two events to make something bigger. [Last year] individual pubs took between £500-£5000 extra that weekend alone during CAW. CAMRA members are making a beer of their choice using our brewery, a limited edition beer which will be sold during CAW.”

Tip

Tap into peoples’ thirst for discovery by offering new and different beers at your festival.

Meet the brewer

As well as using beer flights to promote their local ales with Thwaites brewery, the Metropolitan in West Didsbury, Manchester, will be organising a meet the brewer session. Customers will be able to enjoy a talk by one of the local brewers, learn more about ales and ask questions.

General manager, Mel Carus, said: “Last year’s event encouraged people who would have stuck to their normal drinks to try cask ales. We sold 150 more pints than the previous week. People do like to try something new or out of the ordinary.”


Tip

Use the expertise of local brewers to introduce them to cask ale, or encourage them to try different styles.

Digital marketing

Social media is an important channel for licensees to advertise their activities as much as possible. Get in touch with the CAW team through the website and inform them how you’re taking part. Your activities can then be featured on the website as well as their Facebook and Twitter page. Remember to use the hashtag #caskaleweek and Twitter handle @caskaleweek to promote your digital content and generate traffic through during the Week.


If your pub is Cask Marque accredited, operators should also make sure to feature their pub on the Caskfinder app. The app is used 70,000 times a month and potential new customers can find out what beers are on the bar. The app also includes a list of beer festivals as well as other features.

Tip

Push your events hard on social media and use the official CAW profiles to extend your reach.

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