While cask ale sales continued to shrink in 2018, licensees remain passionate about the role it plays in their business.
This year’s Cask Report reported that sales of cask beer were falling quicker than overall beer sales in the on-trade.
However, while the report found that the overall cask-beer market shrank by 6.8% in volume, it still accounts for 55% of the overall on-trade ale category - which in itself represents a quarter of all on-trade beer sales - according to CGA.
Moreover, of the 900 licensees surveyed for the 2018-2019 Cask Report, nearly three quarters (70%) said they were either passionate about cask or they thought it was a great drink.
2018 in cask
Despite sales dips over the past year, its been a busy time for cask beer.
Sharp’s Doom Bar: In light of research suggesting that 70% of consumers wanted cask ale served cooler than the recommended cellar temperature, Molson-Coors owned Sharp’s Brewery trialled an extra-chilled variant of Doom Bar. The move was intended to target younger drinkers who had previously shied away from cask - which they perceived to be a warm, flat beer.
St Austell brewery: An eventful year for St Austell brewery saw the Cornwall-based brewer snap up Griffin Inn, its first acquisition since purchasing Bath Ales in 2016, as well as scooping awards for best beer marketing of the year, best integrated campaign and best beer and cider marketer at the 2018 Beer & Cider Marketing Awards.
BrewDog: Alongside craft brewer Cloudwater announcing the return of its cask ales, Scottish brewer and operator BrewDog announced in October that it will start putting some of its beers back into cask a decade after originally ceasing the practice.
According to The Morning Advertiser's 2019 Drinks List, the best-selling cask ales in the on-trade were:
Volume sales (HL)
Value sales (£m)
Sharp's Doom Bar
Greene King IPA
Fuller's London Pride
Greene King Abbot Ale
Caledonian Deuchars IPA
St Austell tribute Ale
Tim Taylor's Landlord
The list was compiled by CGA Strategy based on consumer preference, equity scores and sales metrics and includes brands from the spirits, wine, softs and LAD categories.
Consumer opinion forms the basis of the methodology, highlighting the brands that consumers want to see when they visit the on-trade.
As such a 66:33 weighted split was used to determine the list, balancing consumer preferences with actual on-trade sales performance to give the most accurate and comprehensive list of the 100 ultimate drinks brands in the GB on-trade.
By measuring brands against a number of equity features, we have also uncovered consumers’ perception of brands and the reasons why they make up the nation’s favourite drinks – are they cool, fun, value for money? etc.
All sales data used in the report is from CGA.