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Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

A Cambridgeshire man has become to first to visit 1,000 pubs as part of Cask Marque’s World’s Biggest Ale Trail.

The Ale Trail is one of the features of the Cask Marque phone app (CaskFinder), which pinpoints cask ale pubs across the country.  Users can ‘scan’ the Cask Marque certificate in pubs across the country where they will automatically be entered onto a leaderboard.
Jean-Paul Russek, who resides in Huntingdon and works for Punch Taverns as an area manager covering 40 pubs across the South East, was thrilled to have reached so far in the trail: “I scanned my first certificate in May 5th  2012 in Reading and I can’t believe how far I’ve come – and how many pubs I’ve visited – in just under a year.

“I started visiting pubs on the app, partly out of research for my role at Punch as well as a genuine love of cask ale. From then, it has escalated, taking me across the country to visit so many different types of pubs from Devon to as north as Edinburgh – I really have scoured the country!

 “At Punch, we encourage our pubs to serve cask ale and gain Cask Marque accreditation as we believe that cask ale represents what is really unique about the authentic, British pub experience. By using this app, it is a great way to get out, try some real ale and discover some exceptional pubs, full of character and quality ale.”

Paul Nunny, Director of Cask Marque presented Jean-Paul with a framed certificate at Punch Taverns-owned pub, the Boot at Histon on 30th April.

Paul Nunny said: “The Cask Finder app is a great tool for real-ale lovers, or those who want to try it for the first time, to search for cask-marque accredited pubs nationwide. The app lists 8348 pubs and as it is viewed in real-time so users can see their nearest pub.

“Since we began 15 months ago, 11,000 people have registered for the ‘Ale Trail’ and over 60,000 scans have been recorded.  The app has grown in popularity and the trail feature is extremely competitive amongst users, currently seeing over 2,000 scans per week.

“Around a quarter of Punch pubs are cask-marque accredited, with Kevin and Renata Bridges at the Boot, as prime examples of publicans who recognise the importance of the cask ale in pubs today.  

 “Jean-Paul has been a great supporter of the World’s Biggest Ale Trail and it is a great achievement to become the first person to reach 1,000 pubs. The app’s popularity has exceeded our expectations, and we look to see if anyone goes on to beat his score.”
A new version of the app now locates beer festivals by area and allows users to record their favourite beers and share it with friends on other social networking sites.  
Readers can join in and download the free Cask Marque iPhone or Android app by searching for ‘Cask Finder’ on your smart phone’s app store. Alternatively, visit www.cask-marque.co.uk/app

Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

For those of you lucky enough to have an iPhone or Android powered smartphone, a new version of our CaskFinder app was released today. So this seemed like a good time to tell you what has changed and how we have worked to address some of the valuable feedback we have received from our app users since the last release.

What's new?

- The most requested item for a new release was the facility to tell the difference between pubs which you have scanned on your ale trail, and those which you have not previously visited. These are now differentiated on the Pub Map by red logos if you have visited, blue if you are still due to visit.

- If you change phones you can now restore your ale trail scans to your new phone. Just reinstall the app on the new phone and go to ale trail. It will ask you to register but will give you the opportunity to enter your username and password. If you can remember your email address then you can reset your password if you have forgotten it. If you can't remember which email address you registered with then please contact us and we can find out for you.

- If you visit a pub or drink a beer you like you can now add them to a favourites list, so you can remember what they were in the morning!

- You can rate pubs when you visit them on the pub details page. Let us know about beer quality, the welcome you received and whether you had the option to 'try before you buy'. It's a chance to have your say!app-beers-2013

- Also on the pub details page, you can let us know if you had problems scanning a certificate during the ale trail. We will then add the certificate manually to your ale trail. It saves you time contacting us by email.

- Beer festivals are now displayed on a map as well as in list form. This should help you see what is happening near you. (Currently iPhone only).

- Lots more bottled beer codes have been added to the list so if you are in a supermarket you can scan a beer using the 'beer codes' button and view the tasting notes. There are now over 300 beers on this list.

Further update

There will be a second update coming out in the next month or so which will allow you to:

- Share on Twitter and Facebook when you have visited a pub, drunk a great beer or scanned a certificate - great for building a community with other like minded people

- Search for pubs with WiFi so you can go and enjoy a beer whilst playing on your laptop

How many people are using the app?

The app is used over 50,000 times each month and we now have well over 9,500 people registered for the ale trail.

I don't have an iPhone or Android phoneapp-festivals-2013

Some people have requested the app on Blackberrys and Windows phones. At the moment we do not have any plans to release the app on either of these formats. It is not because we don't want to, we would just rather make sure the iPhone/Android version is as good as it can be, rather than spending some of the money making a mediocre app on all different formats.

Pubs Not Displaying Certificates

One of the biggest frustrations for ale trail users (and us) is pubs not displaying their certificates. All pubs are sent certificates with a letter explaining why they should display it. Some however choose not to put them up even though they know it may frustrate some customers. If you let us know where you have experienced a problem using the link on the pub's page then we will send them another certificate. Our assessors also explain to the pubs about how the app works when they do their visits to check the beer quality. Please continue to ask the staff where their certificate is and hopefully this will push them to display it!

Using the Ratings Information

If you rate a pub we will use this information to speak to the pubs to let them know public opinion. We cannot act immediately on every rating, but will gather information over a period of time and then target the bottom percentage to see if we can help them improve.

Love the app? Then shout about it!

And finally, if you enjoy using our app please can you rate it for us on either iTunes or Android Play Store? If you have negative feedback we would rather you contacted us directly so we can address it - on these sites we are not able to respond to each comment.

We hope you have lots of fun with the app, please let us know what you think!

How do I download the app?

Visit either the iTunes App Store or the Android Play Store and search for "CaskFinder". Alternatively find it directly from https://www.cask-marque.co.uk/find-real-ale-pubs/mobile-phone-app

Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

smartphon-in-hand-colourIn a recent NOP Survey, 57% of cask ale drinkers recognised the Cask Marque plaque and 62% related the sign to beer quality.

Interestingly, awareness is higher; 67% in the 21 to 44yr old category, which must in some part be due to the CaskFinder app, which is used over 60,000 times per month to find Cask Marque Pubs. The app also offers the opportunity to join the World’s biggest Ale Trail and so far, the Cask Marque certificate in Pubs has been scanned over 30,000 times to record visits.

The region with the most awareness of Cask Marque is the West Midlands; 75%, followed by the South West; 68% and Yorkshire and Humberside; 65%. The lowest awareness was in Scotland; 40%. This awareness has a significant effect on footfall in Pubs, as indicated in the Licensee Survey undertaken in 2012, which showed that:

  • 88% of Cask Marque Licensees have seen an increase in Cask ale sales since accreditation
  • 98% of Licensees would recommend the scheme to other Licensees.

Paul Nunny was delighted with the results “It is particularly pleasing that our licensees through the survey have stated that the accreditation increases cask ale sales. We are all in a commercial world and today quality is a key component of retailing success.”

Miles Selby, head of purchasing at Stonegate Pub Company said “As the popularity of cask ale continues to grow within our estate it is important to have a badge of quality that consumers can recognise and trust. Over 85% of the Stonegate cask ale houses have Cask Marque accreditation and the performance of cask can be partly attributed to the award. When an assessor visits from Cask Marque, as well as checking beer quality, they also undertake a cellar audit, ensuring that all elements in the serving and dispensing of cask ale are checked and verified”

Should you require any further information please contact Paul Nunny on; 07768 614065 or email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . More information can be found on our website; www.caskmarque.co.uk

Posted by on in Cask Marque Blog

Carl Griffin, CAMRA member and ale fanatic writes about his experience using the CaskFinder App's 'World's Biggest Ale Trail' feature.

Carl-GriffinOver the last 12 months I have been taking part in a new initiative introduced by Cask Marque termed the ‘World’s Biggest Ale Trail’.

The concept began in September 2011 to coincide with Cask Ale Week in order to encourage people to visit more pubs and try real ale. The scheme involves using a smart phone to scan QR codes on the bottom of the pub’s Cask Marque accreditation certificate. The name and a running total of the pubs visited are stored on your phone and prizes gained for reaching certain thresholds.

As we approach this year’s Cask Ale Week (28th September – 7th October) I have now visited 400 different pubs that have achieved Cask Marque accreditation. During this period of time I have been sent prizes such as a bottle opener magnet for surpassing 25 pubs, a Cask Marque Polo shirt for surpassing 50, and was given the honour of becoming Cask Marque’s first ambassador for surpassing 100 pubs. Becoming an ambassador entitles me to a free Brewery Tour, a day visiting pubs with a Cask Marque assessor and a free place on a cellar management training course worth over £100. So far 27 people have become Cask Marque Ambassadors with many more on the verge of achieving this landmark.

My tours of Cask Marque pubs have taken me to all corners of the UK and have involved some amazing weekend bar crawls in some very ale conscious cities such as Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, to name just a few. Along the way such gems ranging from traditional country pubs to ‘trendy’ town centre bars have been found serving a wondrous array of real ale in tremendous condition. My favourite find has been the Nook in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. This tiny brewpub, home of the Nook Brewhouse, dating from 1754 is hidden away in a small square in the centre of the town made famous as the setting for the BBC comedy Last of the Summer Wine. Offering a great range of their beers, from Blond through to Oat Stout, this pub is worthy detour if you’re exploring this area of Yorkshire.

Many of my tours have involved my ale-loving wife, Sandra, who has enjoyed drinking ale since first trying our national drink after moving to the UK from lager-only Bosnia two years ago. The ale trail has also encouraged us to discover more of our wonderfully beautiful group of islands.

It is worth mentioning that we have many pubs within our district that have achieved Cask Marque accreditation including 11 in Aylesbury and 6 in High Wycombe, along with many of our small town or village pubs. I would encourage you, especially as Cask Ale Week is upon us, to visit these pubs that you may have not tried before and partake in the Cask Marque initiative. You will not be disappointed by the quality of the beer and may even find a rare gem of pub or even a new favourite ale along the way.

For a pub to achieve Cask Marque accreditation, they must pass two unannounced visits by qualified assessors whom are all qualified brewers. All beers on offer are tested for temperature, appearance, aroma and taste. If both visits reach the required standard Cask Marque accreditation is awarded. The award is renewable every 12 months subject to satisfactory annual inspections. Look out for the tell tale hand pump sign on the outside of the premises or signs attached to the bar’s hand pumps themselves.

If you are interested in discovering more about the scheme, or want to join the ale trail, visit http://www.cask-marque.co.uk/biggest-ale-trail/ale-trail

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"The complainant is definitely right and they have a problem." This was the response I received from one of our assessors after he had been asked to go and investigate a customer complaint.