Scottish Courage has pledged to take real English beer into the 21st Century with the launch of Theakston Cool Cask.
After years of research, during which time many have predicted the demise of real ale and questioned the commitment of the major brewers, the new beer will be launched next week in 400 trial outlets.
ScotCo says it is for drinkers who want the best of both worlds — the taste, heritage and authenticity of a classic real ale together with the cool temperature, clarity and consistency of cream ales.
The 4.2 per cent ABV beer will have an innovative dispense system which combines the circulation of cooled water around the beer lines in a special beer python with a water-jacketed cylinder beneath the handpump.
This will ensure the beer is served at a consistent 10 degrees Celsius, which is above typical nitrokeg temperatures, but lower than the 12oC that is recommended, though often exceeded, for mainstream real ales.
Chris Sladen, director and marketing controller for Theakston Ales, said: "Consumer research showed that cask ale did not meet the expectation of beer drinkers on two critical fronts — consistent product quality and serving temperature. Cool Cask has been developed to specifically address this barrier to trial and repeat sale."
The investment by ScotCo and the £1,000 cost of dispense equipment for pubs means the beer will only be available to outlets stocking three beers supplied by ScotCo and selling more than 36 gallons of cask beer per week.
Theakston Cool Cask will be backed by TV and cinema advertising across the north of England, where it is scheduled to be rolled out to a further 1,500 outlets in September.
The three existing Theakston beers — Best, XB, and Old Peculier — will remain, although Sladen said nothing had been ruled out regarding possible rationalisation of the range in the future. Initially, Theakston Cool Cask will be brewed exclusively in Masham, North Yorkshire.
Earlier this year London brewer Young's unveiled its new-look real ale, Triple A, targeted at younger drinkers who want a pint combining the best qualities of real ale and cream ales.