Managed pub and bar operator TCG is celebrating the success of its fourth annual Proud of Our Ale festival, held in 40 of its pubs for seven weeks. Over the four years since the first campaign in autumn 2011, TCG’s cask ale volumes during Proud of Our Ale have grown by more than 150%.
This year’s festival, which launched during Cask Ale Week, saw a new focus on social media, combined with proven elements from previous campaigns including a ‘buy six ales, get one free’ offer; a 20% discount for CAMRA members and a ‘taster pint’ comprising three third-pints, which proved a popular way of sampling the beers. Pubs were also tasked with offering a greater variety of ales, with more than 100 different brands being served over the seven weeks, supported by regional brewers including Brains, Adnams and Shepherd Neame. Across the participating pubs, cask sales increased by an average of 9% on last year, with several sites achieving far higher uplifts and 20 pubs in double-digit growth over 2013.
Chief operating officer Nigel Wright said, “Proud of Our Ale has delivered consistently impressive sales increases over four years. Just as importantly, it has changed perceptions of the participating pubs in their local markets, built relationships with local CAMRA members, and generated huge levels of enthusiasm and knowledge about cask ale within our pub management and teams.
“We were especially pleased to see how the pubs used social media to promote Proud of Our Ale to the growing number of younger drinkers who are discovering cask ale. Tweeting a new ale as it goes on the bar proved to be a great way to build traffic among local cask fans. The diversity of the offer is increasingly important as consumers look for new and interesting experiences, so it’s great that more beers and breweries than ever were part of this year’s campaign.”
The George Staples, a King’s Feast community pub in Sidcup, Kent, achieved a 160% uplift in cask ale during Proud of Our Ale, compared to the 2013 festival, and went on to win an incentive provided by Shepherd Neame of a hotel break in Whitstable.
Assistant manager at the pub, Martyn Legg (pictured) said, “We were rotating ales on three of our four handpumps, so we served around 40 different beers during the festival, which earned us a lot of credibility among beer fans. Twitter worked well for us, with local CAMRA branches retweeting when we added a new ale, which brought in new customers who then stayed to try other beers.
“We saw a lot of new faces coming into the pub during Proud of Our Ale, and we also sold more cask to our regulars, so it’s been a great campaign for us and we’ll see long term benefits.”
The pubs with the highest cask sales during the festival were the Red Lion in Newquay and the Comedy and St James Tavern in London’s West End. Apart from the George Staples, the biggest uplifts were achieved by the Fatling, Hornchurch; London Stone, Cannon Street; Via West India Quay and the Royal Oak, Weymouth.
This year’s Proud of Our Ale campaign was masterminded by Brett Sanders, TCG’s cask ale champion and general manager of the Golden Fleece in Chelmsford, along with regional operations manager Mark Nield. The festival was supported nationally by Sharp’s and regionally by Adnams, Brains and Shepherd Neame, all of whom provided prizes for incentives.