Cask Marque has added a new tool to its CaskFinder app amid low consumer confidence in bar staff knowledge of the ‘national drink’.
The news comes as the beer quality accreditor released the tenth edition of its annual Cask Report, charting the nation’s ale drinking habits. The release also marks the beginning of its 11-day ‘Cask Ale Week’ celebrations, from 22 September to 2 October.
Though the report found that the number of UK pubs serving cask ale has soared from 42% to 72% over the past ten years, with the category worth £1.7b a year. It also revealed that only 36% of consumers feel that bar staff have an understanding of cask. However, 90% of consumers say that beer quality is very important or essential when choosing where to drink.
According to the report, 92% of consumers want to know more about the different styles of beer now available; 60% said pubs don’t offer sufficient tasting notes on how beer looks, tastes and smells.
It also found that cask drinkers spend on average £967 a year in pubs – nearly twice the amount other drinkers spend.
The CaskFinder app’s new ‘pump clip recognition’ tool allows bar staff to take a picture of a pump clip to access information from tasting notes to flavour descriptions and ingredients,’ said Cask Marque’s Paul Nunny.
‘From a consumer point of view, there’s no doubt about it: it’s a hugely more satisfying experience to buy from people who understand and care about what they are selling.
‘The instant access to information allows bar staff to sell intelligently and consumers to buy knowledgeably.
‘If licensees want to stay ahead in their game, they can use CaskFinder to supplement workforce training. Otherwise, they’ll find their staff being outflanked by customers when it comes to knowledge about their beers on their bar. That can’t be acceptable for anyone who takes retailing seriously.’
Cask ale accounts for 58% of on-trade ale sales, with around 36,600 outlets now serving it. The number of Cask Marque accredited pubs has increased 160% from 3,690 in 2005 to 9,670 in 2015. On average Cask Marque pubs each grew beer sales by 4% last year.
Over 10,000 pints of ale are expected to be given away free during the 10-day week, to encourage consumers to sample new beers.
Report author and beer expert, Sophie Atherton said: ‘People are starting to talk about cask ale – Britain’s national drink – with more passion than was once thought possible. It is clear that it’s no longer enough to be able to pour a decent pint. Bar staff need to understand how cask ales are different from other beers; they need to be able to describe them; they need to be the ones starting the cask conversation.’