Cask Marque was formed in 1998 to address the void in beer quality control, caused partly by the 1990 beer orders which forced breweries to sell their pubs or vice versa, and thus often their interest in the quality itself, resulting in a major concern for the industry.
It was set up by four breweries to drive up industry standards: Adnams, Greene King, Marston’s and Morlands, each providing Board members and guidance, as well as Paul Nunny, former Sales & Marketing Director at Adnams and Rupert Thompson who at the time was owner of Refresh UK.
Now approaching its 20th anniversary, Cask Marque remains a non-profit making organisation with a Board made up of representatives from large and small breweries, pub companies and trade bodies, all engaged in continuing to drive beer quality in the following ways:
To assess the beer quality in pubs and ensure standards are driven and maintained, our team of assessors visit the pubs in our scheme at least twice a year. During the unannounced visit, the assessor checks all the cask ales on sale for temperature, taste, appearance and aroma. All the beers must reach the required standard for the pub to pass and it then receives a plaque, framed certificate and merchandising material to inform its customers of the award and their rights. The pub then appears on the CaskFinder app for those on the ‘World’s Biggest Ale Trail’ to visit.
Our project work incorporates our Grain to Glass program where we train and accredit throughout the whole beer supply chain. Starting with our SALSA plus BEER scheme, which is a food safety audit with the added relevant brewing specific requirements; through to the Distribution Charter for the transportation of beer; and the cellar management award ‘Scores on the Cellar Doors’; before, finally, our accreditation scheme where we check beer in the glass as the consumer would be served it.
Outside of this program, we also carry out mystery drinker audits for various brewers and pub groups, as well as checking the quality of craft beer in pubs.
We run 100 one-day cellar management courses each year at iconic breweries across the UK as well as hundreds of 1-2-1 cellar management training courses onsite at pubs, to make sure the licensee knows how to look after cask ale as well as what equipment they have and how to use it. It is great to learn the theory at a brewery but it can also sometimes be really helpful to be walked through the learnings in their own environment.
Part of our business plan is to bring industry quality initiatives together and we do this by offering back office administration services. There are many good schemes and ideas out there, but with no-one to help run them.
- Cask Matters – Industry body promoting cask ale and industry – wide news
- Cyclops – Industry standard for describing cask ale
- British Guild of Beer Writers – Treasurers
- National Cask Ale Week – A week long promotion of cask ale that we manage
- Stay in a Pub – Our Sister company, the UK’s leading pub accommodation website
Any profit we make from the extra behind the scenes work we carry out goes back into promoting accredited pubs and driving the quality of cask ale.
Whilst the Board continues to plan and oversee the overall strategy, Paul Nunny remains the only Executive Director, with the day to day running of the organisation being carried out by Paul and his team.
Alastair Macnaught (Operations Manager) and Angie Armitage (PA and Office Manager) joined shortly after its launch and are still here today. Annabel Smith was our first National Account Manager, having initially joined from Diageo where she ran the ESP (Every Serve Perfect scheme amongst other things) and was recently voted Imbibe Educator of the Year. She is now self-employed but continues to run our training team and provide consultancy. Roger Clayson joined us as National Account Manager for the South, having previously worked with Paul at Adnams and prior to that in sales at Coca-Cola. Recently, we have added Edward Theakston and Rachel Evans as National Account Manager for the North and the Midlands respectively.
See also: What do Cask Marque do?