VOTE NOW: Are perceptions of cask ale changing for the better?

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Poll: Are perceptions around cask changing for the better?
Poll: Are perceptions around cask changing for the better?

Related tags The Cask Project Cask ale Beer

Independent breweries have been hailed as the “saviours” of the cask category as the segment battles falling sales, but are perceptions of cask changing? Have your say now in the Morning Advertiser's poll.

Figures from CGA by NIQ, featured in the Morning Advertiser’s Beer Report​ (MA), showed volume sales for cask ale stood at 1.4mHL in 2023, down from 1.47mHL in 2022 and 2.02mHL pre-Covid.


Are perceptions of cask ale changing for the better?

  • Yes

  • No


Value sales for the category followed the same pattern with the on-trade estimated to have been worth £1.24bn before the pandemic, £985m in 2022 and £973m in the most recent statistics.

Though it is not the global brewers but the independent breweries working hard to champion cask that will be the category’s “saviours”, according to the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

The trade organisation’s head of comms Neil Walker said the picture was much brighter for independent firms, adding SIBA “was definitely seeing big growth” with its members in the segment.

Survive and thrive 

In fact, figures from the SIBA Independent Beer Report 2024​, released this week, showed a 10% annual increase in cask production from independent firms.

SIBA chief executive Andy Slee told the MA​: “As global brewers are stepping away from cask beer, local brewers are filling the void and they do it with more local relevance because the beer is consumed closer to the point of production, so the quality is higher and it’s a virtual circle upwards.

“The overall cask market is down, but [independent brewers] share of it is going up significantly; if there is to be a saviour of the cask market it will be the independent brewers collectively that will be the people that do it.

“That’s no disrespect to the global brewers, they make their choices; cask beer is unique to the UK and it’s a bit of a bump in the road to them but it is an important part of our brewing heritage, it’s our national drink so we need to do what we can to make it survive and thrive.”

However, while not a cask ale, Carlberg Maston’s Brewing Company’s (CMBC) Fresh Ale could be a “game-changer” for the category, Sterling said.

Despite having sparked debate amongst beer aficionados since it launched earlier this year, Fresh Ale, a cask-style beer that is not a live product and keeps for 14 days, could draw more people to the cask category, some have argued.

Green shoots

Moreover, T&R Theakston managing director recently told The MA​ cask has seen too many reports of “doom and gloom​” over the past couple of years and implored people to focus on the positives.

Also as part of the Beer Report, CGA by NIQ​ client director Christopher Sterling explained the category had suffered over the past 12-months in part due to a rise in popularity of the stout category.

Though there were other issues in the category around “pricing and quality”, he added.

However, there were some “green shoots”, Sterling said, within the segment in terms of trends from a volume perspective “in line with or slightly better” then pre-covid.

He continued: “Cask is a category that should be doing well and, in some ways, it’s started to recover slightly.

“Even though we’ve seen year-on-year decline for the past few years, there is the experience aspect fact that people are drinking a product they can only have in a pub. This has also helped sales not to completely collapse.”

Related topics The Cask Project

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