During a debate on the importance of cask to the British pub at the launch of The Cask Report 2018, Innis & Gunn managing director James Coyle called for craft keg and cask producers to unify and “co-exist together”.
“Cask ale is on the verge of facing its biggest threat ever, and I don't say that lightly,” he said. "Cask over the last 10 to 15 years had a real fightback thanks to the likes of the Campaign for Real Ale and the Society of Independent Brewers. They have really put cask back in ascendancy, but the last year or so we have seen keg beer come back stronger, fitter and leaner, and successfully using all of the techniques cask has used over the past 20 years.
Unify under craft beer
“There's a whole host of new-wave American craft brewers that have unified under the mantra of craft beer,” he continued. “They have recognised the value of unifying. How can cask regain momentum? My view is the first key step is we have to stop being distracted by the definition of craft beer.
“Fundamentally cask ale is a craft beer in the same way as modern keg ale. Cask needs to move forward with its own confidence under the banner of a craft beer and show that cask and keg can co-exist together.”
Last week, Fourpure’s Sean Knight told The Morning Advertiser that the argument between cask and keg was “redundant” and “divides drinkers instead of uniting them”.
Concerns over cask sales drop
Meanwhile, Cask Marque’s Paul Nunny has admitted that the drop in sales of cask beer is “concerning”.
Responding to a question about the severity of the dip in sales over the past year (a 3.8% decline), Nunny said: “The trend down is concerning. The trend down in pubs is concerning as well. We need to show pubs that if they do some trade on cask, even though there might be a decline, actually they will improve their business.
“There's a lot of minus figures in the industry but we need to build on the pluses both for the consumer and for pubs, so they can make the most of the opportunity that cask brings. You've got to try to turn a negative into a positive.”
The Morning Advertiser’s full analysis of The Cask Report 2018 can be read online here.