Cask Marque announced the details of the Beautiful Beer scheme at the launch of The Cask Report 2018.
The programme seeks to recognise pubs that have made significant efforts to promote quality beer and will run alongside the organisation’s existing Cask Marque accreditation programme, which is now featured in more than 10,000 pubs nationwide.
The scheme will be run by an independent company that Cask Marque is looking to set up in November. It will be trialled across five pub groups in spring next year, before being launched officially in autumn.
Licensee of Shropshire pubs the Crown Inn, Oakengates and the Elephant & Castle in Dawley, John Ellis gave a mixed review of the new scheme.
He said: “If the accreditation is going to go across big pub groups first, Cask Marque is going to have to work harder to show independent operators why it is worth their while.
“It is a good idea but setting up another company to deal with it makes me wonder what the cost is likely to be.”
Fellow licensee Robin Carey from the Jolly Crispin in Dudley, West Midlands, isn’t a member of Cask Marque but made some points about the new programme.
He said: “Anything like this scheme that is promoting beer is great but what bothers me is if it becomes a corporate thing, run by the big operators.
“At the end of the day, cask beer, especially traditional cask beer, is great but when it gets taken over by firms like Greene King, etc., they push their own products.”
However, Carey didn’t want to just find fault with large pub companies. He said: “I am not criticising it but my worry always is that they get taken over by big operations. It can be good but it has to be about the small operators and small brewers, not about the nationals.”
Licensee of the Royal Pier in Aberystwyth, Lee Price, told The Morning Advertiser: “If pubs really do face a greater threat than ever before. Any credible scheme that helps decorate the doorstep and improve guest experience should be considered a good thing.
“The longer the red carpet, the better the chances of attracting new customers and keeping the wolf from the hatch.”
Leeds-based operator and brewer North Bar/North Brewing Co operations manager Richard Fiddaman tentatively lauded the accreditation.
Promote beer quality
He said: “Anything that helps promote good-quality beer within the industry is a good thing. We do extensive training with all of our staff but not everywhere does.
“As a brewery, anything that helps promote training of staff and how to look after beer is good because if someone had a bad pint, they would think the beer is terrible if it was the first time they had drunk it and never drink it again.
“That is the risk of having a brewery because once the beer leaves you, there is very little you can do to ensure it gets to the consumer as good as it should be.”
London-based brewery Fourpure welcomed the accreditation and said it will be positive for the industry. Head of marketing Adrian Lugg said: “We welcome the announcement, anything that draws attention to quality control and aids in education is a positive for the industry.
“Fourpure’s position and focus on quality is that of inclusivity, be it service of keg, cask or packaged beer. Whether it is at a brewery level or with growers. The ability to produce the best possible beer starts with good hops and grains and ends when a beer lover is taking that last sup of their chosen tipple.
“There is still work to be done on broader education around quality, consistency and handling through the chain, especially with the rapid increase in brewery numbers. Hopefully as more initiatives like this are put into place, the knock-on effect is to raise the level of the industry as a whole.”