Cask beer: Premiumisation is the way forward, says 2019 Cask Report

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

27 September 2019

According to the 2019 Cask Report, presented yesterday in London by editor Matt Eley, there are ‘serious challenges for the industry to overcome before cask returns to growth’.

With consumption of cask ale having declined by 4.8% year on year, Eley highlighted that premiumisation is crucial to revert the negative trend. Elements such as improved quality, correct serving temperature and higher prices would help the premiumisation of the category, he said.

Quality

‘Too many brands and not enough throughput means poor quality,’ said Eley. New World Trading Co's beer guru Lauren Soderberg, who was present at the event, agreed explaining that her company reduced the number of handpumps in each of its sites to ensure that none of their beers go stale thanks to a higher cask ale turnover.

According to the report, poorly kept beer is the main reason drinkers move away from cask ale and it's also the most significant barrier to people drinking it in the first place. Customers lack the confidence to complain about poor quality; instead they avoid choosing the brand in the future or even visiting the pub altogether.

'If you can’t get the quality right,' commented Paul Nunny of Cask Marque, 'please don’t stock cask.'

Serving temperature affects the perception of quality too. Following a trial undertook over the summer, the Cask Report claimed that the ideal serving temperature for cask beer is between 11° and 13°.

Price

The price issue has sparked heated debate over the past few weeks, as SIBA’s James Calder openly criticised JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin for slashing beer prices across its sites.

Cheap cask beer means low margin for publicans and even lower for brewers. Furthermore, as cask ale is often the least expensive beer on offer in bars and pubs, this element can affect the category's perceived quality too, already seen as ‘an old man’s drink’ by many younger drinkers.

'The most perplexing thing is the price difference between craft keg beers and cask beers,' said Eley. 'Drinkers are paying on average an extra £1.50 per pint for craft keg than they are for cask. Given all that goes into creating a great pint of cask ale, it’s strange that there is so little equivalence.'

Related articles

Beer & Cider

The value of cask ale drinkers, according to the Cask Report

It turns out cask ale drinkers are better than other drinkers - just check out the numbers in the 2015 Cask Report.Amongst positive real ale figures i

Beer & Cider

Demand for cask beer is higher than ever, says Thornbridge Brewery

Derbyshire-based craft brewery Thornbridge has announced that demand for its cask beer has never been higher, despite recent reports of cask's decline

Beer & Cider

Cask Report: New app to boost staff knowledge

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 t

News

Cask beer is in decline – and the on-trade’s not helping

This year’s Cask Marque report made grim reading for brewers and servers of traditional cask beer.The annual study of pub trends pulled no punches, sh