I had a great cask moment the other day.

I'd completed yet another crap round of golf and was sat outside the clubhouse in reflective mood with a pint of Harveys Best and a friend for company.

The sun was fading away, the last few golfing stragglers were hacking their way up the final fairway and I was enjoying the beer in what must have been the exact condition the brewer would have intended.

It was perfect.

So, I had another.

Unfortunately, the fact that it was so good was also extremely memorable.

I'm editing the Cask Report this year which means I am currently drowning in a tonne of beer-based research and obsessing about the state of the market and what can be done to help pubs flog a few more pints.



It's too early to reveal any findings or conclusions (the report is due out in late September to coincide with Cask Ale Week) but it has attuned my mind to the quality of cask.

When cask is good I don't think there is a better drink to have in a pub.

The problem is that it just isn't that good a lot of the time.

I've not been keeping a tally, but pints like the one above seem relatively rare to me. Maybe I'm drinking in the wrong places but while much cask is passable to good there is still far too much that I'd rank as below average to undrinkable.

I go into some pubs and automatically I can sense that ordering cask would be a risk my guts would not thank me for the following day. In this situation I am forced to avoid it.

Yes, I realise that cask is difficult to look after and that a lot can go wrong between the brewery and the beer passing my lips. But that doesn't make it OK to present beer in this condition to Joe Public.

If someone's first ever pint of cask smells a bit off and tastes like something you should sprinkle over your chips then they could be put off cask for ever.

And right now that is the last thing that either cask breweries or pubs need.

I'm not revealing any secrets by saying that cask drinkers are generally a little older and that the industry needs to a lot of work to broaden the appeal of the category.

This means that pubs doing cask have simply got to do it well.

And if you can't do it well, then maybe you shouldn't be doing it at all.