Pubs urged to support Cask Ale Week as sales decline accelerates with pandemic

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Get on board: pubs are urged to support Cask Ale Week
Get on board: pubs are urged to support Cask Ale Week

Related tags Beer Cask beer

Sales of cask beer have fallen by 40% since pubs reopened in April 2021 – a total of 76 million pints, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has revealed.

The news comes as Cask Ale Week is running this week until 3 October 2021. The week is all about raising the profile of cask beer in the UK and getting beer drinkers to visit their local to try a pint of cask ale in order to grow the category. It is run by Cask Marque, the accreditation scheme for pubs who serve the highest quality cask beer.

However, the BBPA has revealed that – from April 2021 to July 2021 – 113m pints of cask beer were sold in pubs. During the same period in 2019 and before the pandemic, 189m pints were sold.

It means a loss in revenue to pubs and brewers from cask beer of £243m in the past four months alone due to the plight of cask, accelerated by the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, sales of cask ale had already been declining. From 2014 to 2019, sales fell by 17%. From 2009 to 2014, sales of cask decreased by just 0.8%.

The BBPA is therefore highlighting the plight of cask ale and urging people to support it by getting behind Cask Ale Week.

Pubs' viability reducing

“The plight of cask beer is a huge concern for our sector. Pubs are the home of cask beer so if sales of it are declining then it means the viability of our pubs are reducing too,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA. 

“We all missed a proper pint of cask ale in the pub during lockdowns. We cannot take cask beer for granted anymore. 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 and ensure this uniquely British style of beer can recover to the glory it deserves.

“The BBPA is fully behind Cask Ale Week and we urge every local, brewery and pub goer to support it.” 

Kevin Georgel, chief executive of St Austell Brewery, which brews cask ale brands including Tribute and Proper Job, said: “Not only did the pandemic force our Great British pubs to shut, but it stopped us from being able to serve and enjoy cask beer. The impact of this has seen an accelerated decline of this quintessential British beer.

“The uncertainty of Covid, lockdowns and restrictions has meant fewer pubs serving cask because it is a live product and has shorter shelf life. Likewise, it has meant the spontaneity of going to the pub for a pint – the core cask ale drinker occasion – has diminished.

“There has never been a better time for pubgoers to support their local, by choosing to drink fresh cask beer that’s been expertly brewed, stored and poured.”

Online discussion panel

And The Morning Advertiser​ is also involved in supporting the week. Editor Ed Bedington will be compering an online discussion panel entitled “Cask Meets Craft” to be held on Friday, 1 October, at 6pm. Yorkshire brewery T&R Theakston is set to bring together leading figures​ from the beer and hospitality trades through the discussion panel.

The week has the backing of many pub companies and breweries​ across the sector. 

Nicholson’s pubs will be giving a free pint of Nicholson’s Pale Ale with the purchase of food to its new and registered Nicholson’s app users.  

Brewers will also be backing the week. Stockport based Robinsons Brewery, is launching a 500-pint giveaway campaign for Cask Ale Week 

The Doncaster Brewery & Tap will be celebrating with a variety of cask ale as well as guest beers sourced from local breweries. Throughout the festival, there will be Yorkshire cheeseboards supplied by Neil’s Cheeseboard and pork pies by Wilkinson Butchers. 

During Cask Ale Week, Purple Moose Brewery will be giving customers a Moose token for every pint of cask ale they buy at their Brewery Tap, the Australia, in Porthmadog. If customers collect five Moose tokens they will receive a pint of cask ale free. 

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