Monday, 24 December 2018

The cask beer conundrum


The sad news that cask beer sales have suffered a downturn has lead to much musing on the internet. Strangely enough most has come from people that I suspect don't normally drink real ale. Indeed the person that's written the most is self confessed keg beer drinker Pete Brown (part onepart twopart three).

The best selling product in my local
Yet those of us that drink in the ways of righteousness have, if anything, been puzzled. Kevin Travers wrote in my local CAMRA newsletter News and Ale  that he agrees real ale is everywhere now and adds:
"... the range and quality of real ale is is probably greater now than at any point in my lifetime"
When similar sentiments were mentioned to Pete Brown on twitter he reacted in his usual calm and considered manner by comparing those saying it to climate change deniers. But the fact remains that my own experience mirrors that of Kevin. Is the Surrey/Hants Borders area bucking a nation trend? Probably not. Overall cask beer sales may be down, but availability is certainly up. So what is going on?

Annual sales figures don't really give enough information so we don't know how things have changed seasonally and regionally, and until we get more details we have a very incomplete picture.

We can see some generalities though. Cask beer is now, quite rightly, considered something essential to have in a pub. But draught beer sales are in long term decline, and the decline is likely to continue. For many years cask beer fared better than average but this is no longer the case.

Draught beer is already a premium product compared to beer from supermarkets so the reactionaries, economically illiterate and, let's face it, diabolically inspired that call for cask beer to be increased in price are talking nonsense if they think that would help cask beer sales. Our mother church has long recognised that promoting pubs is key and those concerned about the decline in cask beer would do well to honour the sabbath and spend at least one evening a week in a pub drinking cask beer.


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