It's cask-ing for trouble not training bar staff

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

"There is a wealth of material available to licensees to help train their staff"
"There is a wealth of material available to licensees to help train their staff"

Related tags Cask ale Beer

As Cask Ale Week begins, Mike Berry asks the important question: Do your staff know about cask?

As anyone with small children can tell you, when you’re eating out, it’s often an experience to be endured, rather than enjoyed.

You sit in a state of constant dread that your offspring are about to create a scene and ruin yours (and others’) dining experience.

But now my two sons are a little older, we’re beginning to venture out more often as a family and rediscover the joys of a long and, thankfully, more relaxed Sunday lunch.

A few weeks ago we went to a pub, local to me, in West Sussex, to celebrate a relative’s birthday. I’d not been before but heard decent things about the venue from friends. The TripAdvisor reviews were, mostly, positive.

The pub was busy when we arrived with the Sunday lunch service is full swing.


We had reserved a table and were shown to our seats by a young member of the bar team. She asked what I’d like to drink — I enquired as to what cask ale was on.

She proceeded to run through their selection of draft and bottled lagers before I interrupted to steer her back to the cask options.

Once she told me what cask was on offer, I asked her what style the beer from a local brewer was. All I got in return was a blank expression and a promise to “go and ask the manager”.

I eventually got my pint and settled down to my roast dinner, but the whole exchange left me pretty exasperated. Not with the young bar server — she was pleasant enough and seemed quite embarrassed by the situation — but with the licensee who clearly hadn’t provided her with any sort of training about cask.


This year’s Cask Report​ again provides compelling reasons as to why you should sell cask in your pub.

Many of you will be familiar with the arguments. It delivers a strong case as to why cask beer is a source of profit and why having cask drinkers in your pub is desirable.

Staff training is one of the easiest ways of improving sales of cask beer. Just equipping bar staff with basic knowledge on the product they are selling can reap rewards. They are your main touch point with customers and key to whether they remain loyal to your pub or go elsewhere.

There is a wealth of material available to licensees to help train their staff.

They don’t have to be experts in cellarmanship or know the history behind every local microbrewery, but enabling them to speak with confidence and enthusiasm about beer to customers should be the very least of your ambitions.

Today marks the start of Cask Ale Week​ — what better time to do it?

Looking back at my Sunday lunch, I didn’t let the ‘beer incident’ spoil the overall experience. It was just one part of the occasion. But for me it’s quite an important part — and I’m by no means a beer snob.

Yet, I will think hard about whether to return to the pub in future.

Related topics Beer Events & Occasions Training

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