We’ve asked our Director of Brewing, Emma Gilleland to give us her thoughts on this. Here's what she said:
Cask ale - where do you even begin to describe this national treasure and its importance to UK brewing and pubs? I supposed a good place to start is by giving you an overview of the situation we currently find ourselves in.
It’s safe to say that the coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest crisis to ever hit the beer and brewing sector. Over 2,000 pubs have shut for good*, and the lockdowns and months of enforced restrictions have caused a significant fall in on-trade beer volumes, which were down 56% in 2020**.
Even worse has it been for cask. According to a recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, volumes of cask were down by over 70% in the 12 months to February 2021.
Now you may ask [does this decline in cask matter]? Yes, it matters – and the importance of championing cask has never been greater. The thing with cask is that it’s unique to the UK. It’s something that is central to our brewing heritage and what sets the British beer and pub tradition apart from the rest of the world.
Cask-conditioned ale is not just something that can be packaged up and sold in a supermarket or get delivered to your door. No, the only place you can get a real cask-conditioned beer is in a pub.
Before Covid, the cask ale sector was worth £577 million. It contributed to 72,500 jobs in the UK and one in nine pints sold in pubs was a cask ale***.
But these numbers only reveal part of the story. Cask ale drinkers bring other people with them. So it’s not just the money they themselves are spending – it’s the fact that cask beer is helping to drive sales of other drinks, which in turn helps keep pubs profitable and, needless to say, open!
So, it should be clear by now that the future of cask ale and pubs is closely intertwined; no pubs, no cask. Equally, thriving sales of cask ale can help keep pubs open. And they both now need all the support they can get to prevent them from becoming a thing of the past.
That’s why I want to urge everyone with even the slightest interest in cask to now stand up for this piece of British brewing heritage.
So, to the loyal cask drinker, the trialist who drinks cask occasionally and the drinkers who are trying out cask ale for the first time, get down to your local watering hole and sip, savour and enjoy a pub-fresh beer.
In return, as the world’s biggest producer of cask ale, I promised we’ll continue brewing and stay committed to cask as part of our core beer offering.
Emma Gilleland, Director of Brewing at Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company