Cask ale brewers gear up for pubs reopening

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ready, set: breweries have restarted brewing cask beer ahead of pubs potentially being able to reopen at the start of next month.
Ready, set: breweries have restarted brewing cask beer ahead of pubs potentially being able to reopen at the start of next month.

Related tags: Beer, Coronavirus

Breweries across the country have restarted their cask ale operations as pubs get ready to reopen this summer, with 4 July earmarked as the earliest date this could be allowed.

Black Sheep Brewery has restarted production of cask beer in Masham, North Yorkshire after three months out of action, with 100 barrels of its Black Sheep Best Bitter.

Charlene Lyons, chief executive of Black Sheep Brewery, said: “The reopening of pubs has been much anticipated for both the public and businesses. With the estimated date not too far in the future, I’m pleased to say that we are back in production, starting with one of our most loved beers.

“Following strict social distancing and hygiene measures, the team are back on the floor and the first cask has been fired up, and we’re gearing up stocks to serve pubs across Yorkshire and further afield.”

Back in action

Yorkshire-based brewery Timothy Taylor announced yesterday (Wednesday 10 June) that it had started to produce cask again for the first time since the lockdown was enforced in March.

Robinsons Brewery also announced that it had started brewing with pubs reopening in mind. The Stockport-based operation said it has plans to deliver cask and keg beers in advance of the 4 July date.

It comes as the pub sector has urged the Government to issue more details about when it can expect a firm reopening date and operational guidelines​, which would elucidate any social distancing requirements.

Project Pint founder Charlie McVeigh told The Morning Advertiser​: “There are lots of challenges but the one that I think illustrates the challenge the most clearly is the cask ale challenge.

“Cask ale is not sold anywhere other than in pubs and clearly brewers have got to gear up and start producing cask ale ahead of the reopening. It’s just one example - someone has got to go and kill the cow that’s going to be butchered and hung and make the steak. All this has to happen and notice has to be given.”

James Calder, chief executive of Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said the organisation had received confirmation from ministers that they wanted to give brewers as much notice as possible. The organisation had requested brewers need at least two-three weeks notice.

Green light

He added: “Despite rumours in the press this weekend that we could see an earlier opening date for pubs, potentially in June, all official advice coming from Government points towards the 4th July as the earliest pubs will be allowed to open, so that is the date we and others in the industry are working towards.” 

“We are expecting a 'go' or 'no go' decision around the middle of this month and the publication of full guidance, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have been consulting with us to give operators and brewers the best chance.”

He added: “We are also communicating with all small independent brewers to ensure they're aware of the steps they need to be taking, and the timeframes they need to be thinking about, to ensure the UK’s pub go-ers have the opportunity to enjoy quality independent craft beer when pub doors reopen.”

Publicans have said they hope to receive a similar amount of notice as was given to the retail sector,​ which has already received guidance on reopening ahead of being allowed to on Monday 15 June.

Related topics: Beer, Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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