East Anglia: Discerning drinkers help turn pub tide

Cask ale drinkers at the Swan Inn, Stratford St Mary

Cask ale drinkers at the Swan Inn, Stratford St Mary - Credit: Archant

People are drinking less and going out less, but when they do go out, they are choosing their beers more carefully – and cask ale is a main beneficiary, according to a report.

The Cask Report, commissioned by Colchester-based independent beer quality organisation Cask Marque, was launched yesterday to coincide with the start of Cask Ale Week, a countrywide celebration of Britain’s national drink.

The report, by beer author and broadcaster Pete Brown, shows how people are turning increasingly to cask ale in the search of flavour, natural ingredients and craft production methods.

“There has been a sea-change in attitudes towards cask ale over the past few yearswhich explains why it’s now out-performing the beer market by 6.8%,” he said.

“It’s completely lost its image as an old man’s drink and now appeals to a broad range of drinkers, male and female, young and old. 63% of licensees say it’s attracting younger customers into their pub and a similar number say that more women are drinking it. More people see it as crafted product made from natural British ingredients and like the fact that it’s available only in the pub.

“This is great news for all those who care about the future of the British pub since it helps guarantee a new generation of drinkers who will help keep pubs relevant - and open!”

The report points out that more than 10,000 pubs held beer festivals during 2012, encouraging people to try out cask ale and modernising its image.

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184 new breweries opened during the past year.

Paul Nunny. director of Cask Marque, said more than 2,800 pubs have events going on during Cask Ale week – from beer festivals to tutored tastings, ‘meet the brewer’ evenings and even free pints!

“The Week’s theme is ‘The Great Big Taste Challenge’ - something everyone can take part in just by going to the pub and trying something new to them,” he said. “As the Cask Report says, cask beer is helping keep pubs in East Anglia and throughout the country open – and that’s a great reason to raise a pint during Cask Ale Week.”