Among the findings of the report are:
- cask ale brings more drinkers into the pub and drives higher turnover overall.
- cask ale drinkers visit pubs more often.
- cask ale drinkers have a higher average spend per pub visit.
- cask ale pubs have closed at a much slower rate than other pubs.
Why is all this happening? Firstly, it’s clear that people are becoming more interested in the quality of what they eat and drink. Swilling down large quantities of tasteless alcoholic fluid may still be OK for some people but more of us seek flavours that are complex and even challenging. The increasing wish to consume products from our local area also helps real ale; since we launched our LocAle scheme a year ago, the number of pubs selling locally-brewed beers has doubled whilst virtually all pubs sell at least one East Anglian beer. Also, standards of cellarmanship are rising – it’s now very rare that I get a poorly served pint in a local pub (whereas in other parts of the country it can be more of a lottery).
The report concludes “cask beer is ideally positioned to be the next big thing. It fits consumer trends. It seems full of innovation. Cask beer requires a commitment to both style and substance, and a little extra effort. But the market is there and this report proves that there are financial rewards for catering for it”.
All this certainly chimes with my own experience of local pubs. The ones that seem to be doing best are those that offer a good choice of well-kept real ales. Meanwhile, of our nine non-real ale pubs, four have closed recently (the Duke of Argyle, the Jubilee, the Graduate and the Devonshire Arms, all Cambridge – though as reported elsewhere the last will be reopening shortly, and with real ale very much to the fore).
The message is clear – real ale rocks.