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CAMRA calls for brewers to include tasting notes on pump clips

CAMRA has called upon British breweries to revolutionise the way they promote their beers in pubs by making it standard to clearly show what a beer looks, smells and tastes on handpumps. The campaigning organisation claims that this can help grow the real ale market after new research showed 68% of real ale drinkers* would try more varieties of real ale if brief tasting notes appeared on pump clips.

The research also shows that 18% of people who have never tried real ale before would be encouraged to do so if pump clips provided more information on how the beer tasted. This was especially true of younger people, with a whopping 44% of 18-24 year olds saying they would give real ale a go if provided with this information.

Tom Stainer from CAMRA said “CAMRA believes the new research highlights it is time to improve the information at the point of sale to help consumers understand what a beer is like before they purchase it. With approximately 1,200 British breweries now brewing over 8,000 different real ales, it is now time to make this change and help introduce more people to the joys of real ale.”

Beer sales figures recently issued by the British Beer & Pub Association on 25th sales in pubs had experienced only their third quarterly increase since 2000, but CAMRA’s research shows that a new approach to promoting real ale on the bar is needed in order to encourage more people to try different real ales and possibly bring new people into the market.

“The handpump and pump clip are synonymous with the British pub and historically breweries have used these to just promote their beer name and brewery. Our new research shows that consumers now want breweries to use this limited space in a more productive way to describe their beers so that can make an informed decision at the bar. We have seen some breweries in recent times introduce some great ways of doing this but many still concentrate on making the pump clips look attractive or tell the consumer something historical about the brewery. This is not what the consumer wants to know and we think it is time for change.”

Chiltern (Bucks), Harviestoun (Clackmannanshire), Hook Norton (Oxfordshire) and Saltaire (West Yorskhire) are just some of the breweries already describing their beers on their pump clips and the likes of Batemans (Lincolnshire) have recently introduced tasting notes on key rings that are attached to the pump clips.

CAMRA launched its own Beer Selector at the Great British Beer Festival to help visitors chose their beers, allowing them to select beers by colour, abv and beer style and creating them a list to try at the event.

Another initiative which helps consumers to choose their beers is Cyclops Beer. This is a not-for-profit industry led promotion by CAMRA, Everards Brewery, Cask Marque and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers). Approximately 300 breweries have over 1,800 beers ‘Cyclopsed’ through this consistent and thorough accreditation system where by beers are tasted and examined at Everards Brewery. Working with Everards brewery, just a few words are agreed with the brewer to market what a beer looks, smells and tastes like on promotional material. This includes allocating a bitter and sweet scale out of five. This simple language and system makes it easier for new consumers to understand Cyclops Beer website offers a facility for pubs and beer festivals to create cask end cards that promote what a beer looks, smells and tastes like using Cyclops.

Tom Stainer concluded, “CAMRA supports any new interactive or fun ways of helping consumers find out what a beer tastes like before they buy it. Apps, websites and fun gimmicks like the BEER SELECTOR are great but one way that will not cost the brewer any additional money or rely on technology is to add beer tasting notes on pump clips. It is almost impossible for even the most seasoned real ale drinker to know what all 8,000 real ales on the market taste like, so using just a few words at the point of sale could just help a brewery sell more beer. Not everybody has the confidence to ask for a free taster before purchasing and we would urge all breweries to take on board these important research results.”

*Those that highlighted in the independent research of 1,000 people that they drink real ale as their main drink, drink it often or drink it occasionally.