The Cask Marque scheme was founded in 1998 by Paul Nunny. Formerly Sales & Marketing Director at Adnams Brewery in Suffolk, Paul along with Rupert Thompson came up with the idea of Cask Marque to address the void in beer quality control partly caused by the 1990 Beer Orders, which forced the breweries to sell their pubs or vice versa and thus often their interest in quality.
The resulting fall in cask ale quality was identified as a major concern and four breweries initially got together to launch Cask Marque as a method of driving up standards by way of an accreditation scheme. Adnams, Greene King, Marston’s and Morlands kicked off the scheme nominating pubs for the award and providing Board members to provide guidance.
The resulting company was an independent body called Cask Marque Trust which was and remains a non profit making organisation. The company still has a Board made up of representatives from large and small breweries, pub companies and trade bodies to reflect the aim of engaging all parties in the drive for quality beer. The Board is elected at the Cask Marque AGM with every corporate member of Cask Marque having one vote, regardless of their size.
Whilst the Board plan and oversee the overall strategy, Paul Nunny is the only Executive Director and the day to day running is 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 then joined as National Account Manager for the South, having previously worked with Paul at Adnams and prior to that in sales at Coca-Cola. More recent appointments have been a second National Account Manager in the North, Edward Theakston and also Rachel Evans as National Account Manager for the Midlands.
You can see from the chart below that Cask Marque carry out a number of different roles in the industry and these can be split into four categories:
- Accreditation Scheme
The reason Cask Marque exist is to improve beer quality and the most effective way of doing this is through our accreditation scheme. Pubs that join the scheme are visited unannounced by an independent assessor at least twice a year. In the first year they are visited twice in the first three months and in subsequent years they are visited once in the summer and once in the winter.
The assessor checks all cask ales on sale for – temperature, appearance, aroma and taste.
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.
Consumers are encouraged to comment independently on the quality of cask ale in the pub to the Cask Marque organisation and further visits are made if required.
2. Project Work
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.
‘Project work’ incorporates our Grain to Glass program where we accredit beer at the brewery gates through our SALSA plus Beer scheme, Beer and how it is transported throughout the Distribution Chain, the way beer is looked after it arrives in the pub cellar through our Scores on the Cellar Doors audits and then 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 what equipment they have and how to use it. It is all very well learning the theory at a brewery but sometimes the reality of one’s own pub can be somewhat different and it can be nice to be walked through the learnings in their own environment.
4. Admin services
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 Marque work closely with:
- Cask Matters – industry body promoting cask ale
- Cyclops – industry standard for describing cask ale
- British Guild of Beer Writers – Treasurers
- National Cask Ale Week – we run it
- Stay in a Pub – our Sister company
See also: What do Cask Marque do?