'Cask beer outperformed almost every drink on the bar last year'

Comment by Paul Nunny, Director, Cask Marque Trust

Cask Ale Week (Easter week) is about celebrating Britain's national drink – cask beer. These linked articles talk about success – people, pubs, breweries and, of course, cask beer. It's great to have something to cheer about.

The history of Cask Marque says much about the ups and downs of the cask beer sector. In the early Nineties when the Government broke up the vertical integration in the brewery industry, whereby all the brewers owned all the pubs, with the now infamous 1989 "Beer Orders", there was a surge in cask beer sales as the market opened up to new brewers.

However, this was shortlived as many pubs rushed to stock cask beer, and beer quality declined rapidly as landlords lacked the skill set to undertake the last part of the brewery process in the cellar – the second fermentation. Disappointed customers left to find alternative drinks.

In the late Nineties, Adnams, Greene King, Marston's and Morland breweries, which were growing their sales but in a declining market, met and identified the need to tackle quality issues. At the time, I was the sales and marketing director at Adnams. Each brewer contributed to a £40,000 fund which paid for research showing that two out of every five pints sold were outside brewery specification: hence the birth of Cask Marque. This non-profit organisation was set up to accredit landlords who served great beer, with the aim of inspiring others to follow suit.

This award is to the licensee and not the pub, because it is they rather than the pub who look after the beer. Subsequently, the industry has heavily invested in equipment and cellar management training, and today there are more than 6,300 pubs which display the distinctive Cask Marque plaque.

Cask Marque has 45 trained assessors, said by some to enjoy "the best job in the world". They visit pubs nationwide, checking on beer quality and offering licensees advice on beer range, throughput and cellar management. Before you ask, you need to be a brewer to be able to join the team!

Surprise, surprise, customers are rediscovering cask beer, and last year it outperformed almost every drink on the bar, including lager and wines and spirits. A total of 400,000 new drinkers enjoyed cask beer, and the number of female drinkers doubled in 12 months.

There are more brewers now than at any time since the early Forties. Camra membership has reached record levels – now exceeding 100,000 – and beer festivals have enjoyed record attendances.

Now we have this momentum, it is important that we continue to maintain quality standards and to learn from the mistakes of the early Nineties. That is where you as the consumer can play an important role. When you see the Cask Marque plaque if great beer is on sale, do tell the licensee. If, however, it has not reached your high level of expectation, do let Cask Marque know. We will follow up the complaint and it may trigger a further assessor's visit.

To help you to identify the Cask Marque award-winning licensees, you can either download a satnav programme from our website or use our new iPhone app, both of which are free from our website.

You can, however, just text to 60300 the word "cask.", and add your postcode. For example, CASK.CO49HT. Within 30 seconds, you will have details of your two nearest outlets.

I always remind people that cask beer is unique to the British pub. You can't buy it in the supermarket or drink it at home – you have to go to the pub and socialise. This is why Cask Ale Week focuses around the pub.

This year, more than 10,000 pubs will be celebrating Cask Ale Week by running events and promotions. Do visit the Cask Ale Week website www.caskaleweek.co.uk and see which pubs in your area are supporting the event.

We have lots of reasons to be cheerful during Easter week, so let's celebrate cask beer – Britain's national drink linked to the success of the British pub.


Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own