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  • Cask Ale Week 2014

    Cask Ale Week is back and it's better than ever, with more pubs, brewers and pub companies supporting it than ever before!

    A recent survey showed that 37% of cask ale drinkers and 78% of cask ale publicans are aware of Cask Ale Week.  65% of drinkers claim they visit the pub more often in Cask Ale Week.

    The things they love about Cask Ale Week are, 80% Beer Tastings, 65% Beer Festivals, 43% Ale Trails, 40% Food & Beer Matching sessions

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By Annabel Smith, Beer Sommelier and Cask Marque Training Manager

In Pete Brown’s  first book, ‘Man Walks into a Pub’, the author makes an observation about  beers brewed specifically for women.

“Every now and again some brewer will have another punt at a beer targeted at women. They never work. It’s not that women don’t drink beer...it’s just that a beer that goes out of its way to say it’s especially for women just makes everyone suspicious. A beer that says it’s just for girls is like one of those creepy blokes without any mates of his own sex”

It is with this in mind that the latest Dea Latis meeting decided to hold a round table forum on ‘What Women Want’ from beer, the beer industry and what appeals to them. We cannot generalise too much, women have as wide a taste palate as men, and indeed amongst the 22 women who attended this Dea Latis event, there was a real mix of ‘favourites’ – from dark chocolate-like stouts and porters, to light, crisp blonde ales. This is why the group also has the opinion that a beer brewed specifically for women is not the route to take.

glassesThe type and style of glassware is the first comment to be raised (not the first time this has come up). Women don’t want masculine, clunky glassware. It’s not that we’re too weak or delicate to lift a pint glass to our mouths, just that universally we want glasses that look elegant, that presents the product on a more stylish way, and makes the product more appealing. At the Beer and Breakfast event at The Parcel Yard at London’s King’s Cross, every beer was served in a stemmed goblet. It looked great, but more importantly it encapsulated the aromas of the beer we were trying. It looked a like a quality product and one we would pay money for. Even just being given the choice of glassware in a pub or bar would set that retailer apart from the competition, and give us a choice.

The sharing opportunity is also another selling point for women. How many times have you walked into a bar and seen a group of women sharing a bottle of wine? Brewers could do with observing HOW women drink in groups. Perhaps brewing beers at a higher strength in larger bottle sizes, but supplying elegant glassware to enable women to share the beer in smaller serve sizes would be an opportunity to be seized upon.

The service women receive in bars is absolutely essential. All of the group agreed that being offered a sample of beer to try was a key selling point. We don’t want to have to ask for it, we would like it to be offered automatically. In other areas of retail we automatically know we can try on clothes before buying them, test drive cars before making the decision to purchase – why is this such a difficult concept for some bars to grasp? Bearing in mind that all the group attending the Dea Latis event work in the beer industry in some capacity or other, some of the women said they were still reluctant to ask for a sample for fear of being turned down. Staff training on this issue can go a long way to reducing the ‘fear factor’ of being faced with a bank of unfamiliar beers when we walk into a bar.

For a lot of women, Beer Festivals are an entry point to cask ale. They can try numerous flavours, styles and types of beers in a ‘beery’ environment, safe in the knowledge that if one beer isn’t to their liking, it’s not the end of the world and they can try another without breaking the bank.

sample-beerMarketing – specifically point of sale and pump clips can have a massive influence on female purchases. Many brewers still stick to the tried and trusted formula of ‘blokey and jokey’ pump clips and advertising. In a society where the number of female visits to pubs overtook male visits in 2011, it may be worth the brewers rethinking their marketing strategy, taking the ‘beard out of beer’ and appealing to a more educated, affluent female audience. Boddingtons did this in the 1990’s, they had huge success with the Melanie Sykes advertising campaign. Is it not time other brewers took up the mantle?

It is a truth universally accepted (sorry, just had to get that one in), that women do 85% of the food shopping in the off trade – yet are absolutely bewildered by the array of beers on the supermarket shelves. Opportunities are rife for the off trade to make more of the beer and food matching market. In recent years, beer has become a strong contender to wine as an accompaniment to food, yet until supermarkets (and bars) offer the same knowledge and education offered within the wine industry, it will never be acknowledged.

Finally, the Dea Latis group all conceded there was a lack of visibility of imagery surrounding women enjoying beer. Photographs are powerful tools to influence women making choices about lifestyle. More effort needs to be made to capture images of women enjoying beer, including it as part of their repertoire of drinks, and the diverse nature of beer for many social occasions.

Let us know your Top 5 favourite beers by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will list them here. If you want to find somewhere that may sell these, try our 'beer search'. Please check with the pub first as the results are only as accurate as the last time we visited. http://www.cask-marque.co.uk/find-real-ale-pubs/with-cask-marque

Anthony Hunt

1. Barnsley Bitter from Acorn Brewery

2. Fortyniner from Ringwood

3. Londinium from Roosters

4. Oracle from Salopian

5. Alton's Pride from Triple FFF

 Mike Capener

1. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

2. Yakima IPA from Great Heck Brewery

3. ESB from Fullers

4. WPA from Wentworth Brewery

5. Landlord from Timothy Taylor

Lyndon Barton

1. Doom Bar from Sharps

2. Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery

3. Tribute from St Austell

4. Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery

5. Butcombe Gold from Butcombe Brewery

Michael Jones

1. Otter Head from Otter Brewery

2. Norfolk Nog from Woodfordes Brewery

3. Old Freddie Walker from Moor Beer

4. OTT Old Tongham Tasty from Hogs Back Brewery

5. Stone the Crows from Lymestone Brewery

Tony Williams

1. Doom Bar from Sharps

2. Broadside from Adnams Brewery

3. Tribute from St Austell

4. The Abbot's Confession from Greene King

5. Bishop's Finger from Shepherd Neame

Dave Hawkins

1. Landlord from Timothy Taylor

2. Old Peculier from Theakstons

3. ESB from Fullers

4. Beast from Exmoor Ales

5. Best bitter from Camerons Brewery

Tony Hutchinson

1. Dark Island from Orkney Brewery

2. Sheepshaggers Gold from Cairngorm Brewery

3. Centurions Ghost from York Brewery

4. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

5. Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery

 Mark Howarth

1. Harvest Pale from Castle Rock Brewery

2. SA Gold from Brains Brewery

3. Wainwright from Thwaites Brewery

4. Dizzy Blonde from Robinsons Brewery

5. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

Mark Dwyer

1. Guzzler from York Brewery

2. Riggwelter from Black Sheep

3. Thin Ice from Sadler's Ales

4. Doom Bar from Sharps

5. Snecklifter from Jennings Brewery

 Simon Marley

1. Arizona from Phoenix Brewery

2. Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout from Wye Valley

3. JHB from Oakham

4. Tribute from St Austell

5. Yankee from Roosters Brewery


1. Raspberry Blonde from Saltaire Brewery

2. Plum Porter from Titanic

3. Moonshine from Abbeydale Brewery

4. Sherbert Lemon from Riverhead

5. Golden Glow from Holdens Brewery

 Sarah L Bellis

1. 13 Guns from Thwaites Brewery

2. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

3. Dragon Slayer from Merlin Brewing

4. Spitfire from Shepherd Neame

5. Wainwright from Thwaites Brewery

Stephen Mann

1. Best Bitter from Bathams Brewery

2. Best Bitter from Harveys

3. Black Cat from Moorhouses

4. Dark Island from Orkney Brewery

5. Discovery from Fullers

Dophin Inn

1. Sole Star from Adnams Brewery

2. Wherry from Woodfordes

3. Trawlerboys from Green Jack Brewery

4. Rusty Bucket from Brandon Brewery

5. Mole Trap from Mauldons Brewery

Barry Sellers

1. Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery

2. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

3. Inferno from Oakham

4. Bitter & Twisted from Harviestoun

5. Ruby Mild from Sarah Hughes Brewery

Bob sharples

1. Betty Stoggs from Skinners

2. Golden Best from Timothy Taylor

3. Best Bitter from Timothy Taylor

4. Brambles Bitter from Empire Brewing Co

5. Best Bitter from Black Sheep

Thomas Sileo

1. ESB from Fullers

2. Spitfire from Shepherd Neame

3.  Village Bike from Potton Brewery

4. Abbott Ale from Greene King

5. Hobogblin from Wychwood

Jon Harris

1. Ferryman's Gold from Loddon Brewery

2. SBA from Donnington Brewery

3. Spingo Middle from Blue Anchor Brewery

4. London Pride from Fullers

5. Landlord from Timothy Taylor

Nigel Johnson

1. Fortyniner from Ringwood

2. Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery

3. London Pride from Fullers

4. Proper Job from St Austell

5. American Pale Ale from Dark Star

 Wendy Dellicott-Smith

1. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

2. Thin Ice from Sadler's Ales

3. Absolution from Abbeydale Brewery

4. Pale Rider from Kelham Island Brewery

5. Sunbeam from Banks's Brewery

Richie Bevan

1. Hydes Original from Hydes Brewery

2. Cappucino Stout from Titanic

3. Tribute from St Austell

4. Iceberg from Titanic

5. Bombardier from Wells & Young's

Adrian Wadsworth

1. Cumbrain Five Hop from Hawkeshead Brewery

2. Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery

3. Landlord from Timothy Taylor

4. Tag Lag from Barngates Brewery

5. Rebellion IPA from Rebellion Beer Co

Stick or Twist, Leeds

1. Riders on the Storm from Kelham Island

2. Vanilla Stout from Greenfield

3. Gunpowder Mild from Coach House Brewing Co

4. Heather Ale from Cambridge Brewing Co

5. Mary Christmas from Ilkley Brewery

Rob Vevers

1. Fever Pitch from Yates Brewery

2. Dark Ruby Mild from Sarah Hughes Brewery

3. Yankee from Roosters Brewery

4. Oakwell Bitter from Oakwell Brewery

5. Southwold Bitter from Adnams Brewery

 Lawrence Smith

1. OBB from Sam Smiths

2. Salem Porter from Batemans

3. Tribute from St Austell

4. London Pride from Fullers

5. Dark Island from Orkney Brewery

 Matt Crivelli

1. Cappucino Stout from Titanic

2. Hazelnut Coffee Porter from Saltaire Brewery

3. Dam Dog from Burton Bridge

4. Blandford Flyer from Hall & Woodhouse (Badger)

5. Great Eastern Transatlantic Porter from Black Iris

Lee Allen

1. Pendle Witch from Moorhouses

2. Landlord from Timothy Taylor

3. Wainwright from Thwaites Brewery

4. Pavilion from Bank Top Brewery

5. Plum Pudding from JW Lees

 Paul Vincent

1. Jarl from Fyne Ales

2. Citra from Oakham

3. Blonde from Arran Brewery

4. Gold from Exmoor Ales

5. Dark Island from Orkney Brewery

Kiki Williams

1. Boondoggle from Ringwood

2. Piston Broke from Box Steam

3. Corn Dolly from Stonehenge

4. Tunnel Vision from Box Steam

5. Up & Under from Shepherd Neame

Kevin Maslin

1. Proper Job from St Austell

2. Citra from Oakham

3. Bathams Bitter from Batham Ales

4. Golden Glow from Holdens Brewery

5. Discovery from Fullers

Jean-Paul Russek

1. Revelation from Dark Star

2. Vicar's Daughter from Fisher & Co

3. Red from Rebellion

4. Maverick from Fyne Ales

5. Wreckless from Red Willow

Stevan Eggleton

1. Old Peculier from Theakstons

2. Enville Ale from Enville Ales

3. UBU from Purity Brewing Co

4. Chocolate & Vanilla Stout from Titanic

5. Cleric's Cure from Three Tuns Brewery

Michael Horton

1. Citra from Oakham

2. Heather Ale from Cambridge Brewing Co

3. Ginger Hare from Bath Ales

4. Mocha from Batemans

5. Golden Glory from Hall & Woodhouse (Badger)

Richard Gardner

1. Abingdon Bridge from Loose Cannon Brewery

2. Triple Chocoholic from Saltaire Brewery

3. Harvest Pale from Castle Rock Brewery

4. Conqueror from Windsor Eton Brewery

5. Caesar Augustus from Williams Bros Brewery 

Rob Dickson

1. Barista from Summer Wine Brewery

2. Conqueror from Windsor Eton Brewery

3. Coffee in the Morning from Tap East

4. Very Nutty Black from Thwaites Brewery

5. Broadside from Adnams Brewery

David Mills

1. Snecklifter from Jennings Brewery

2. Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery

3. Pavilion from Bank Top Brewery

4. Port o Call from Bank Top Brewery

5. Pendle Witch from Moorhouses