Pubs must unite for Cask Ale Week to help save the industry

By Gary Lloyd contact

- Last updated on GMT

Back cask ale: your support can help pubs, breweries and suppliers, and create jobs
Back cask ale: your support can help pubs, breweries and suppliers, and create jobs

Related tags: Beer, Cask ale, Craft beer, Branding + marketing

Cask ale beers and the breweries that make them will “only survive” if pubs shout about them – and there’s no better time to do so than Cask Ale Week.

The celebratory week, which all venues that serve cask-conditioned beers are welcome to join, runs from Thursday 23 September until Sunday 3 October.

Cask Marque, the industry watchdog for quality beer that facilitates the week, and many other trade bodies, breweries, pubcos and pubs are backing the week.

How to take advantage of Cask Ale Week

Industry body Cask Marque has offered the following advice on how you can help your pub bring in more cash while shouting about the merits of cask ale:

  • Write “Cask Ale Week”, big and bold, on your A-frame blackboard outside the pub to entice beer lovers through the doors
  • Use inside blackboards to highlight Cask Ale Week and encourage customers to try your cask beer, which is the only genuine #pubfreshbeer
  • Go to  https://caskaleweek.co.uk/download-logos/​ to download logos and visuals saying “We’re taking part in Cask Ale Week” – and use them on social media platforms
  • Tag in @caskaleweek #caskaleweek on Twitter and Instagram posts and @NationalCaskAleWeek on Facebook posts – and Cask Ale Week will help amplify your coverage
  • Use the #StandUpForCask hashtag in your profile
  • Tag in the breweries that supply you – they too should help amplify your posts
  • Create a photo or video with your bar staff – one that celebrates cask beer
  • Add your promotion or event on the Cask Ale Week website https://caskaleweek.co.uk/get-involved/#
  • Create a simple-to-execute, last-minute offer or competition around cask to whet people’s appetite
  • If your pub is Cask Marque-accredited, shout about the fact your pub is part of the #WorldsBiggestAleTrail – and that ale trailers can win Cask Ale Week T-shirts
  • Tell your staff it’s Cask Ale Week and ask them to promote it – and your pub’s cask ales (making sure they know what cask ale is and why it’s important to your pub, to the country’s breweries, barley farmers, maltsters, hop growers and to jobs and the local economy)
  • Use the Cask Ale Week quiz

Cask Marque executive director Paul Nunny said: “Now is the time to make a noise about cask beer. Breweries – and choice of beers – will survive only if pubs are active in their support.

“Cask Ale Week is the ideal opportunity to shout about this crafted drink. Cask-conditioned beer is the one product you can’t buy at the supermarket and you can’t have delivered to your home – and that gives it a unique role in pulling people off their sofas and drawing them into the pub and is the jewel in the crown of the pub offer.

“If you serve cask beer, you are by default an ambassador for the cask category and for the brands you stock. It’s not too hard to be a really good ambassador. Just serve your beer in excellent condition and promote it with passion.”   

Trade body Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) stressed the past year has been “devastating for the industry and has been especially hard on the sales of hand-pulled cask beer”, which has a limited shelf-life compared to other beverages, and is the “freshest beer available” while being “a uniquely British product”

CAMRA chief executive Tom Stainer claimed Cask Ale Week is vital to the industry because fresh British beer are down 70% during the past year.

Calling on its 200 branches to get involved, he said: “Pubs matter and are a vital part of our communities up and down the country. What's more, the pub is the only place you can get fresh cask ale from your local brewery. We are urging everyone to celebrate Cask Ale Week in style, by getting back down to their local pub, social club or brewery taproom and enjoying a pint of cask ale.”

Trade body UKHospitality is backing the campaign as well. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Cask Ale Week is a wonderful opportunity for customers to come and celebrate all that is great about pubs, communities and British beer.

“It’s one of those occasions that has been sorely missed during the incredibly difficult period the industry has suffered. We’d urge publicans and other operators to take advantage of the campaign, encourage people back to their venues and experience the joy of raising a glass together.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin lamented the lack of fresh beer during the past 18 months. She stated: “We all missed a proper pint of cask ale in the pub during lockdowns.

“Pubs are the home of cask ale and both have struggled due to the pandemic and forced closure. With the sector reopen once more, it is vital we promote our pubs and the range they have on cask, which they so expertly keep and serve. Doing so will help our brewers and pubs in their recovery.”

Partnering with suppliers

Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken UK’s pub arm, is looking forward to the week.

Managing director Matt Starbuck said: “We are proud to be supporting Cask Ale Week and thrilled to be ‘Brewery of the Day’ on the opening day of the week.

“It feels amazing to be once again racking up the casks and, together with many local supplier partners in the brewing of this uniquely British product, there’s no better time to invite drinkers to enjoy a pint in support of our industry.

“A pint of fresh cask ale has been missed by many during the pandemic and something that is a special part of our pub tradition. We raise a glass to those who grow our ingredients and brew this wonderful product as well as the team who package, deliver and pour it – a truly local supply chain that reaches far and wide and definitely one that deserves its place as the best pint on the bar.”

Serving cask ale that is great condition is a real boon for any pub says Admiral Taverns business development manager and cask beer ambassador Jean-Paul Russek.

He explained: “Cask Ale Week provides a great opportunity to celebrate real ale and support publicans across the country. It’s an integral and unique part of the traditional pub experience. 

“Cask ale is a great British drink that, when served in excellent condition straight from the hand-pull, is unbeatable.

“Publicans across the country work extremely hard to ensure that every pint is the best it can be and Cask Ale Week provides a great opportunity to celebrate proper beer in its rightful home – our great pubs.”

Stockport based Robinsons Brewery, is launching a 500-pint giveaway campaign​.

David Bremner, director of marketing at Robinsons said: “The promotion will not only attract and reward customers, but will help close to 100 businesses who have faced more challenges than most since the start of the pandemic, typically closed for longer, subject to more trading restrictions and less likely to benefit from government initiatives such as reduced VAT on food, suspended business rates and last summer’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.”

Beer produced to celebrate 

Cornish brewer and pub operator St Austell has made a beer to celebrate.

A spokesperson from St Austell Brewery said: “To celebrate Cask Ale Week, St Austell Brewery is releasing a limited edition, small batch brew called Harlequin IPA.

“Cask beer is one of the nation’s favourite beverages that customers were unable to enjoy throughout the coronavirus lockdowns. The UK-born drink relies on natural, high-quality ingredients and freshness and is served best straight from the pump. 

“Now that pubs have reopened, Cask Ale Week provides the perfect opportunity to satisfy the public’s craving for it, and to support the breweries and publicans that work tirelessly to make sure every pint is served perfectly.”

The beer was made available on Monday 20 September and will remain so while stocks last.

Fellow Cornwall-based business, Sharp’s Brewery, will be running a host of activity to celebrate Cask Ale Week and help publicans attract new customers and drive sales of cask ale.

A social media competition will run throughout the week with the winner receiving a mini keg of fresh cask beer from the brewery in Rock.

Other social plans include a “meet the brewer” session with head brewer, Aaron McClure, plus some behind-the-scenes footage looking at what the team loves about cask beer, beer quality and the ideal food and beer pairings.

Alongside this, the brewery will be hosting an exclusive interview with Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth at The Mariners pub in Rock.

Sharp’s will also join forces with Stonegate’s managed estate to run a series of consumer promotions. This includes Stonegate’s City Taverns and Town Pub & Kitchen divisions are launching a QR code scan-to-win promotion. The top prize is a two-night staycation for two people at a four-star hotel in Rock, with £100 food and drink allowance and £100 travel expenses. There are also four Doom Bar hampers up for grabs as runners-up prizes.

Asahi, which operates Fuller’s and Dark Star, is also committed to engaging cask ale drinkers.

Marketing Director Sam Rhodes said: “Cask Ale Week is always a key calendar moment for us, and for Fuller’s Griffin Brewery and Dark Star in particular. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate, the unique and distinctly British creation that is cask ale, and draw more consumers into the category as well as further engage existing drinkers.

“Cask ale remains a key focus for the teams at Fuller’s and Dark Star, our core brews from London Pride, ESB and Dark Star Hophead will all be prominent throughout the week and they also have a calendar of innovative seasonal brews to offer something new and exciting throughout various points of the year.

“Our draught and cask technical services are also available all year round to help operators provide the best experience possible for consumers, and to help keep them coming back to explore the category. Cask Ale forms an important part of our portfolio at Asahi UK and we will certainly be championing and celebrating it this Cask Ale Week.”

Yorkshire brewery T&R Theakston is set to bring together leading figures from the beer and hospitality trades through a light-hearted panel discussion, entitled “Cask Meets Craft”, held on Friday 1 October at 6pm.

Compered by The Morning Advertiser​ editor, Ed Bedington, the interactive panel will explore what the camps of cask ale and modern craft beer can learn from one another. Free to attend, the event is aimed at those working within the on and off-trade, as well as passionate cask and modern craft beer fans. Click here if you want to sign up for the event​.

As a guide for customers, the British Guild of Beer Writers has compiled a suggested beer for every day of Cask Ale Week, with UKHopsitality's Kate Nichols also submitting her chosen beer too. The list is below:

Date

Writer

Beer choice

Thurs 23 Sept

Matthew Curtis

Mallinson's Citra

Fri 24 Sept

Tom Stapley

Steam Town, Stoke Extra Pale

Sat 25 Sept

Roger Protz

Farr Brew, Our Best Bitter

Sun 26 Sept

Adrian Tierney-Jones

Thornbridge, Jaipur

Mon 27 Sept

Jess Mason

Abyss Brewing, The Future (West Coast IPA)

Tues 28 Sept

Johnny Garrett

Hook Norton, Old Hooky

Wed 29 Sept

Kate Nicholls

Thwaites, Golden Wainwright

Thurs 30 Sept

Emma Inch

St Austell, Proper Job

Fri 1 Oct

Pete Brown

Fuller's, ESB

Sat 2 Oct

Melissa Cole

Big Smoke, Solaris

Sun 3 Oct

Marverine Cole

Sarah Hughes, Dark Ruby Mild

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