As a sixth generation brewer, cask ale has been, and is, at the heart of our business. We’ve been transforming malted barley, hops, water and yeast beside the River Thames for 172 years, witnessing and, some of the time, helping influence changes in what drinkers are drinking, and adapting as we go.
Let’s face it, we’re not alone here. More than 11,000 cask or real ales are now brewed in the UK. Cask ale has been perfected over hundreds of years in Britain, with brewers creating splendid liquids that mature by secondary fermentation in the containers they’re dispensed in, and served without the use of carbon dioxide gas. But this doesn’t come without its issues – cask ales have a short shelf life and once they’re tapped need to be drunk within a few days or they’ll spoil. And that’s not to mention the expertise needed by bar staff to tap and keep the beer fresh.
Our love of beer in the UK has been ignited in recent times by an explosion in craft beer, following the trends across the Atlantic. We’ve all read the debates and heard the arguments about what ‘craft’ is, but the thing for me is – it really doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s all about beer. The arrival of craft has helped invigorate the beer category in the UK and younger and older drinkers are appreciating the great range of tastes and styles that beer can offer – whether that’s served in a can or bottle or served in a glass from a manually hand-pulled pump or via a keg.
All businesses need to be prepared to adapt and listen to ensure their long-term future. To be successful they need to keep their eyes and ears wide open, with a clear vision and understanding of who their core consumer is and developing brands to meet these needs. Beer is no different and that’s why, to ensure cask ale stays relevant to a younger beer drinking audience, we’re doing all we can to refresh and modernise the image of cask ale.
Our strategy is two-fold – ensuring a younger audience knows about the existing great range of cask beers we already brew and are famous for; and secondly, embarking on exciting projects and limited-edition runs that offer both younger and older drinkers new taste experiences. Drinkers want to be able to enjoy their tried and trusted ‘go-to’ brands that deliver a reassuring taste experience they love and, at the same time, be able to try out new things too.
What better way to do this than by a seasonal cask ale calendar that works on a ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone’ basis. A seasonal calendar offers drinkers exciting combinations of tastes and flavours, strengths and beer styles where inevitably the only limitation is the imagination of a great brewing team.
They add variety and interest at the bar, offer a point of difference and help keep the heartbeat of cask ale beating in a world of change.