2018 was the joint hottest summer on record for the UK, and the hottest ever for England. Research in the latest Cask Report 2018/19 suggests that temperature is one of the biggest challenges for cask ale. While the majority of drinkers would prefer cask to be served cooler (below 11°C), the reality is that many pubs serve it far too warm. Cask Marque monitoring during July 2018 showed that almost 7 in 10 pints of cask were served warmer than the recommended temperature of 11-13°C.
Against a backdrop of cask decline across the country, it seems that ‘cooler’ cask could not only create a point of difference at the bar, but it could also be a great way of attracting new younger drinkers and reinvigorating a category in desperate need of a volume uplift.
David Bremner, Director of Marketing at Robinsons, explains: “We’re hugely passionate about cask ale, we’ve been brewing it for 180 years! However, cask still has this ‘old-man’ image that makes people think of warm, flat beer. Research tells us customers want it cooler, so we decided to give the customer what they want and created ‘Chilled Dizzy’… an extra-chilled version of our most popular cask ale, brewed to the same great tasting recipe, but served at a refreshing 8°C (the same average temperature as premium lager). We tested it in our Visitors Centre and the results were overwhelming. 90% really liked it and 85% said they’d order another pint. We’re now trialling in 14 of our tenanted, free trade and managed pubs and, if it’s successful, we’ll offer it to all our customers.”
It’s no secret that cask has had a confidence crisis. Sales are down 6.8% in volume, younger drinkers drink less (and are even less likely to drink cask), and then there’s issues around image, changing consumer habits, the premiumisation pinch, and pub closures. Quality, awareness and knowledge are the holy trinity for cask success.
“Innovation is all well and good, but it mustn’t compromise quality or consistency. Quality always matters,” continues David. “It’s really important to diehard cask drinkers – in fact to all drinkers – and every pint has to be as perfect as the last. That’s why, we invested in one of the UK’s best breweries, employ an entire team of beer testers, run monthly beer quality training, and have a brilliant technical services team. We also created ‘Best in Glass’ – a quality assurance scheme that seamlessly knits together our annual beer quality audit, Cask Marque audits, training records and Vianet data to help our licensees store and serve beer in the best possible condition and, as a result, sell more of it.”
In addition to a sizzling summer, 2018 also brought heat for Dizzy Blonde; which became the focal point of a sexism debate in the beer industry. After 10 years of growth and success, Robinsons announced plans to modify the brand.
Much to the delight of drinkers, the recipe and brewing process will remain exactly the same. However, greater focus is now placed on the ingredients and beer style. The new pump clip prominently highlights the American Amarillo hop variety and the design has evolved to better reflect the historical context in which the original Dizzy Blonde concept was intended. Paying homage to the 1950’s American ‘nose art’ of WW2 aircraft, which was so iconic of the era, Dizzy Blonde acts as a reminder of home; much like the British pub. Light, bright and vibrant, the turquoise colour and chunky, ceramic feel of the pump clip was inspired by the progressive design style in the US at that time; most prominently seen in classic American diners and appliances.
Perfectly pitched for the current trend of light hoppy golden beers, which are up 6% according to CGA research, Dizzy Blonde will continue to raise money for charity throughout summer with ‘Dizzy Donates’; a fundraising campaign in which Robinsons donate 5p from every pint of Dizzy Blonde ale sold to charity.
The new design will be officially launched at the Robinsons Tradeshow on the 26th March and subsequently rolled out across the country.