Brewers of cask beer are forever telling pub companies and licensees how important real ale is to the pub. Now there is research to back up the claims. The 2015 Cask Report (download it here) by renowned beer writer and industry commentator Pete Brown, shows that cask drinkers add more value to pubs than do any other drinkers.
Cask Ale drinkers visit the pub twice as often as the average pub-goer. Their annual spend on food and drink amounts to £967. This is:-
- almost double the spend of the general population
- 63% higher than wine drinkers
- 48% higher than beer drinkers who don’t drink cask ale
- 45% higher than spirits drinkers.
“The amount of money put into the till by cask drinkers should get licensees motivated to develop their cask range and to ensure fantastic quality,” says Pete.
“But the benefits of focussing on cask are not limited to income brought in directly by real ale drinkers. There are friends to take into account! Our research shows that 70% of cask ale drinkers take the lead when deciding which pub to go to with a group of friends. Till receipts may show cask to be a relatively small proportion of takings – but indirectly it significantly drives sales of other drinks.”
He says that this ‘cask ale value chain’ is at least in part the result of cask beer’s uniqueness to the on-trade. “The fact is, people can drink wine, spirits and most beers more cheaply at home. But the only place they can get cask-conditioned beer is in the pub.
“This means that cask-drinkers are more ‘regular’ than other drinkers, 50% of them going to the pub once a week or more, helping to fill the venue and create atmosphere. They are a quintessential part of ‘pubiness’, helping differentiate the pub from other food and drink outlets.”
This contribution towards atmosphere shouldn’t be underestimated, since it is always one of the top factors people cite when choosing where to eat and drink.
The Report shows that a good range of cask ales is important in terms of driving footfall, developing sales and building reputation. Its caveat is that quality should never be compromised. As a fresh product with live yeast, shelf-life is strictly limited. Good cellar management is more important for this than for any other drink. The general rule of thumb, as the Report says, is to ensure that casks each sell within 3 days.
Currently cask ale represents just 17% of all beer sold in the on-trade. This is growing – and will reach 20% by the year 2020.
“This increase is significant not only for pubs, but also for breweries,” says Pete. “Almost 4 new breweries are opening every week. There are now 1,700 of them, most brewing cask-conditioned ale and most supplying pubs whose sales are increasing – despite all the market challenges. What a great success story for British industry.”
To secure hard copies of the Cask Report and Cask Leaflet for Licensees, please email [email protected] We have plenty of copies for distribution among colleagues in head offices, breweries and pubs or download it here. You can also download the Cask Leaflet for Licensees.