the cask project

Anspach & Hobday vows to grow cask beer production

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Anspach & Hobday to increase cask production

Related tags Cask ale Beer Craft beer Cellar management

London brewer and taproom operator Anspach & Hobday has pledged to grow its cask beer volumes as it triples its production capacity.

Despite sales of cask reportedly dropping before during and after the pandemic, Anspach & Hobday said its cask sales have maintained the same rate of growth as its kegged beers.

Co-founder and executive chairman Jack Hobday said: “We have been brewing cask beer since 2015. At the time, it was popular for craft brewers to focus more on keg beers but as a brewery that makes traditional beers modern, the timeless allure of cask beer was always going to draw us in.

“Cask has actually had the same rate of growth as keg beer for us. Since about 2017, it has been around 10% of what we brew and this has been maintained this side of the pandemic with cask growing in line as overall sales volumes have grown by 30%.

“Cask is something we will always champion. We are tripling our production capacity and we will look to grow our cask volumes and presence in more great pubs.”

Anspach & Hobday takes real pride in being available in what it considers some of the best pubs in the capital, which also includes its own sites – the Arch House on the ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ and the Croydon Tap, both in south London.

Eclectic mix of drinkers

On-trade stockists of its beers include the Sutton Arms, Old Street and the Old Fountain, Baldwin Street, both in north-east London; the Carlton Tavern, Paddington, west London; and in south London sites the Shirkers Rest, Deptford; the Hope, Carshalton; and the Marquis of Wellington, Bermondsey.

And cask is not just the preserve of elder drinkers. Hobday explained: “At the Arch House, we get an eclectic mix of cask beer drinkers from traditional real ale enthusiasts to those trying it for the first time at our taproom – particularly for north Americans and beer tourists visiting the brewery as part of the beer mile.

“We see that initial interaction, perhaps their first time trying cask, as a very important one. That's true also for the ‘craft beer’ crowd doing the beer mile, which is typically a bit more diverse in demographics often with groups of non-beer drinkers or people who, until that day, may only think ‘beer’ is European lagers – the chance to open horizons is a big responsibility.

“Our beer is for everyone. Ultimately, to reach a broader demographic you need to make things accessible with good communication and, above all, great bar staff. It’s our belief that, in general, any audience when presented with a lovely taster of top-condition cask beer is likely to thank you for it.”

London Black resized TCP

There are, of course, issues facing cask and Hobday said: “Condition of the beer will always be the biggest challenge. Cask is already at a discount to keg beer owing to its shorter shelf-life when tapped but that shouldn’t come at the cost of the quality and consistency.

“Top-quality cask can arguably best any other style and yet we sacrifice that reputation where we are not passionate on the conditioning. This is why being in the best pubs is such an honour and an imperative for Anspach & Hobday cask beer.”

Cask version of London Black

A claim to fame for the brewery is its London Black nitro porter, which the company believes was the first nitrogen beer to be poured at the Great British Beer Festival when it took to the stage in August 2022.

Anspach & Hobday also made a cask version of its kegged product for the festival.

Hobday said: “London Black is growing incredibly fast and that’s a keg beer but with a big nod to cask. Its origins, famous for its cask-like creamy head, are routed in a quest to recreate something of cask on keg. 

“The introduction of nitrogen does that by stimulating lots of points of nucleation in a low carbonated keg beer as it pours through a creamer plate – much like a cask sparkler.

“The nitrogen also allows it to be poured colder and under pressure just like keg beer and yet the result is decidedly cask or at least very much a tribute to it. London black has already grown to 45% of keg beer that we produce at Anspach & Hobday in only 15 months since launch.

“We are now celebrating the landmark that it is pouring in over 100 pubs across the nation and while it may lead, I think it’s inevitable that in many places, cask will follow.”

Related topics The Cask Project

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