Real ale drinkers a lifeline to Britain’s pubs

Posted on 24 Sep 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Sales of real ale, with its ‘natural’ credentials, are growing, according to the newly published 2015 Cask Report.

The research also shows that cask drinkers are more valuable to pubs than any other drinkers.

The report, by renowned beer writer and industry commentator Pete Brown, reveals that cask ale drinkers visit the pub twice as often as the average pub-goer.

Cask ale drinkers annual spend on food and drink in pubs 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.

Brown commented: “Cask ale drinkers are a lifeline to tens of thousands of British pubs.

“But it’s not just the money they themselves are spending that makes these drinkers so important. It’s also the fact that they bring other people with them.

“Our research shows that 70% of cask ale drinkers take the lead when deciding which pub to go to with a group of friends.

“So although till receipts may show cask beer to be a relatively small proportion of pubs’ takings, it drives sales of other drinks, helping keep pubs profitable – and open.”

He noted that the value chain is at least in part the result of cask beer’s uniqueness to pubs. As a fresh, unpasteurised product with live yeast, it completes the brewing process in the cellar.

Brown continued: “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.

Beer writer and industry commentator Pete Brown.
Beer writer and industry commentator Pete Brown.

“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.”

There are now 1,700 breweries – and new ones are opening at the rate of nearly four a week. Throughout the course of 2014, 11,000 different cask beers were produced by British brewers according to the report.

Licensees and pub companies have far more options when they are deciding what to buy than they did five years ago.  In 2010, just 4% of pubs stocked seven real ales or more, now more than 12% stock that many.

Brown concluded: “Cask-conditioned ale is in growth, its market share is increasing, and drinkers have more choice in terms of style, strength, colour, aroma and flavour than ever before. What a great success story for British industry.”