The growing popularity of cask ale could be the 'lifeline' that ailing pubs need to survive the recession, according to a new report.
According to The Cask Report – Britain’s National Drink, cask ale has grown its share of the beer market by 2.5 per cent over the last two years and 42 per cent of licensees have named cask as the drink that is outperforming all others in the on-trade.
Report author Pete Brown said: "Turnaround stories don't get much better than cask beer’s. In a shrinking on-trade beer market, cask is the only category to show growth, albeit modest, of 1 per cent in the first half of 2009. Its share of the on-trade beer market now stands at 13.5 per cent, up from 11 per cent in 2007. But what's most important for Britain's licensees is that there's compelling evidence to show that cask beer can offer them a out of the recession."
The report, which looked into the habits of cask ale drinkers, found that 40 per cent of them visited the pub at least once a week, compared to 23 per cent of non-cask drinkers. They were also more likely to eat in the same pub (70 per cent) than non-cask drinkers (60 per cent).
Brown said: “Higher-spending customers who drink more beer, go to pubs more often and spend more while they’re there, make cask beer a vital asset for struggling pubs. What hasn’t changed during the recession is that people are still seeking out quality, freshness, natural ingredients and local provenance in food and drink, and that’s why cask beer will continue to be the most successful sector of the beer market.
"Sure, it’s not right for every single pub, but for those that can keep and serve it well, and attract the right customers, cask beer can help to lift them out of the trading downturn.”
The report, out today, also found that 400,000 people have tried cask ale for the first time this year and the number of ale drinkers stands at 8.5 million. A record 71 breweries also opened in the UK last year, taking the total up to 660 – the highest level since World War II.