This week Cask Marque unveiled its 10th annual look into the state of the cask ale market in UK pubs, the Cask Report.
This year written by beer sommelier and writer, Sophie Atherton, the report established that the category is now worth £1.7 billion a year and accounts for 58 per cent of on-trade ale sales and Atherton was keen to point how much the scene had change in a decade of the report.
"In 2007 when the first edition was published, there were just 23,300 pubs (42 per cent of pubs) selling cask ale. There are now 36,600 (72 per cent of pubs) where seekers of Britain's national drink can find it," she said.
The pub industry and drinkers have learnt a lot about beer in that time, here are 10 of them:
1. Cask ale is profitable
Cask ale creates a unique value chain. It attracts more drinkers to a pub, they visit more often, spend more money than other drinkers and bring in more customers – even if their fellow pub goers don't drinks cask, the cask drinker chooses where to go.
2. Cask beer drinkers spend more
At around £967, cask beer drinkers spend more in the pub per year than anyone else – the average person spends just £507.36.
3. "Try before you buy" works
Offering customers the opportunity to do this helps sell more cask beer
4. Quality is vital for beer.
Successful cask ale pubs have the highest standards of cellar hygiene, equipment maintenance, glass washing and bar service.
5. Beer is as good a match with food as wine.
British pale ale with fish & chips or serving the beer with, and in, a steak & ale pie are two easy pairings.
6. We need to educate drinkers...
The biggest barrier to encouraging more people to drink cask ale is lack of knowledge.
7...and pub staff
Cellar, bar and customer service-trained staff make cask ale more profitable to pubs
8. Don't be afraid of craft beer
Craft beer is a useful way of creating interest in cask ale. Most cask ale can be considered craft beer. Think of cask as the cornerstone of craft beer.
9. Get your range right
Beer range is crucial. Drinkers want both familiar and unfamiliar brands. They tend to choose based on ABV and colour, so "weak", "strong", "light" and "dark" are a useful starting point when considering range.
10. It's about quality over quantity
Fewer cask ales served perfectly is better than a vast selection which may end up in poor condition of not sold quickly enough.
We took a look at the cask category as part of our Category Insights series and recently asked if pubs are selling cask beer too cheap?