When Chris and Christine McClung reopened the Black Bull, Bury in March 2011, they knew from the outset that cask ale would be key to their offering. But even they were astonished when they saw sales increase by an incredible 1737%.
Prior to the couple taking over, the Black Bull had one occasional guest ale and no regular cask. Initially their plan was to open with three hand pulls, but this grew to five within weeks. Today, sales of cask ale accounts for 25% of their total wet sales and this focus is summed up by the pubs motto:
“Real Ale, Real Food, Real Pub”.
Chris – a former beer quality manager – attributes much of the success to a comprehensive staff training programme he developed which covers:
- Correct glassware
- How to pull the perfect pint
- How to hold the glass
- Importance of using cold glasses
- How to clean and operate the glass washer
- Cleanliness of the bar
- Understanding of different beers and tasting notes
All bar staff receive a staff handbook and day-to-day monitoring and support.
There’s also a separate induction for cellar staff, which includes cleanliness of cellar and lines, how to prepare and condition cask ales, and stock rotation. All cellar staff receive a management handbook, which includes checklists on all the above points.
Chris advises other landlords: “The key thing with cask is cleanliness. From the glasses to the lines and the cellar, you and your staff must ensure that these are clean or your cask offering will be compromised. By investing time in training your staff and passing on your knowledge and expertise, you’ll ensure that they’re equipped with detailed knowledge of the cask range and in turn pass this understanding on to customers.”