Ale standard to inspect award holders to ensure consistent quality
Random checks of 500 publicans holding Cask Marque accreditation will form part of the organisation's programme to ensure consistently high cask ale standards this year.
Founder Paul Nunny announced at the Cask Marque annual meeting, held at the Spring Pub Show in London, that 10 per cent of the 5,000 inspections made by Cask Marque assessors during 2001 will be random visits aimed at ensuring that pubs are maintaining serving standards.
The organisation also hopes to increase the number of pubs holding the Cask Marque, currently just over 1,700, to at least 2,000 by the end of the year.
The meeting, attended by senior directors from many of the 30-plus brewers and pub companies with Cask Marque membership, also gave the organisation a chance to respond to suggestions that licensees are not always clear about the tangible benefits of their £150 annual fee.
Cask Marque chairman Rupert Thomas said: "We're doing a great deal, but our marketing budget is relatively small. There's no substitute for a good licensee, and you can measure the difference in pubs where cask ales are enthusiastically promoted to customers."
The focus of PR activity this year is to raise public awareness of the Cask Marque symbol as a guarantee of good quality beer. As part of the programme, leading food and wine writers are to be encouraged by Cask Marque to write about cask ale in the consumer press.
A series of media seminars for journalists working for style magazines and national newspapers will be held at London's Mash microbrewery in June.
The topics covered will be Beer and Health, Beer and Food and Beer and Women. Cask Marque is hoping that the journalists will play a part in its aim to educate consumers about the quality and variety of cask ales available in pubs.
Mr Nunny said: "We're targeting food and wine writers, rather than beer writers, because they're the ones who have all the column inches.
"We need to get the message across to consumers that there are many different beers available. If you don't like one, there will be another that you do like."