the cask project

Purity pub charges premium price for cask

By Purity Brewing Co

- Last updated on GMT

Purity bucks trend on cask and charges more

Related tags Cask ale Beer Cellar management Branding + marketing Finance

Contrary to some preconceptions, when properly ‘looked after’ and poured, cask ales can range from cool, light, zesty and refreshing to dark, rich and complex, with an infinite variety of styles, flavours and aromas in between.

However, according to the SIBA Cask Beer Report 2022​, cask beer now makes up just 46% of small brewers’ production, compared to 67% in 2019. A significant drop, but while some brewers have turned their back on cask beer, others are still championing this uniquely British product.

From day one, Purity has remained passionate about the preservation and promotion of premium cask ale beers. It has set out on a journey to brew great-quality beer, disrupt the preconceptions of what cask could be while crafting its beers with an environmental conscience. The business has adhered to three core values identified as drivers for the business: Pure Quality, Pure Eco and Pure Community. From a small start as a farm-based brewer and through adherence to its core principles, Purity has garnered global awards, the respect and recognition of other breweries but, most importantly, the loyal support of its customers.

Quality a key focus

With quality seen as one of the biggest barriers to purchase for cask consumers – 60% of drinkers citing a poorly kept and served pint being two of the top reasons for not choosing a pint of real ale (CGA Consumer Intercepts 2018), ‘Pure Quality’ has always been a prime focus for Purity. To ensure every pint of its cask beer is served in the best possible or ‘Pure Quality’ way, Purity brewing invests both time and money into quality training every year. Upon becoming a customer and part of its ‘Puritan’ community customers are offered the opportunity to partake in Pure Quality cellar and beer pour training.

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“Our focus in cellar and beer training is to demystify and simplify the whole approach to keeping beer,” John Conod, Purity’s puritan experience manager, said. “Not everyone who works in a pub or bar will have a passion for beer and we wouldn’t expect them to. Instead, we focus on what the customer is looking for and give the trainees a three-point brief from beer environment to equipment and handling, then establishing good routines.”

Pure Quality runs throughout the business, no less so than at Purity Brewing Co’s Birmingham-based Pure Craft Bar & Kitchen. Known for its beer and food, Pure Craft has been bucking the cask trend for some time. Sold at a premium price versus the market, its carefully maintained cask makes up three of the top five brands sold across the bar with only Purity’s two premium craft lagers ‘Lawless’ and ‘Organic Pure Helles’ outperforming it.

PureCraft Bar & Kitchen GM Matt Lockren said: “Over the past five years, we’ve seen our cask volume grow year on year, now sitting just shy of 24% of our total beer sales. Our performance is no surprise and can be put down to four core principles: 1) Routinely clean cellars and lines 2) Colder serve temperature 3) Controlled beer environment and, most importantly, 4) Fully trained staff. We know consumers are willing to pay a little more for a great-quality experience and we pride ourselves on our quality of service alongside our quality beer.”

Five wickets

But it’s not just PureCraft Bar outperforming the market, Worcestershire’s CAMRA Pub of the Year and National Trust-owned the Fleece Inn at Bretforton was Purity’s first cask customer in 2005. With five wickets on at one time, licensee Nigel Smith has a long-standing reputation for great-quality cask. Taking four firkins (288 pints) of Mad Goose per week, Nigel understands the importance throughput plays in keeping great cask. “Keeping and curating cask ale hasn’t come without its challenges over recent years,” Smith said. “However, operating a traditional pub like us, it’s important to keep cask alive through the right range and brands.” Rotating two of his line-up on regular basis, Smith knows all too well customers like to try new beers but also seek comfort of tried and trusted brands like Purity’s Mad Goose.

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Quality counts: Purity CEO Andy Maddock

Another long-term partner of Purity’s is Warwickshire’s CAMRA Pub of the Year the Turks Head in the Market Town of Alcester and is another great example of a cask led pub. With four hand pulls, leading with Purity’s most recent cask innovation Jimbo bitter, Carl Buxton publican and owner of the Turks rotates three out of four casks through several craft breweries. “Our cask range plays a really important point of difference for us,” Buxton said. “Locality plays it role, however, that’s not necessary the determining factor. We search the breadth of the country to find right beers for our customers but sometimes it just comes down to what they want. Cask gives us a real opportunity to shine. It’s a point of difference to engage our customers and that’s why we take real pride in the quality role we play in secondary fermentation to complete the process from grain to glass.”

Purity chief executive Andy Maddock said: “We’re truly proud of our cask business and have continued place huge emphasis on the importance Pure Quality plays in keeping great looking, great tasting cask beer since coming out of the pandemic. As a business built on a backbone of cask, we understand the importance it plays day to day in staying relevant for our core customers and established drinkers.

“We’ve built a brilliant team with the right capability to continue to grow in the right places. We have good growth ambitions for the future of which our award-winning cask range plays a key role working with the right customers. Pure UBU and Mad Goose are still two of our best-selling beers and they will continue to form part of that growth with a laser focus on quality, training and innovation.”

Related topics The Cask Project

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