3 reasons cask beer is declining in UK pubs, and 3 ways it can change

Independent beer regulator Cask Marque held its annual Cask Report on Thursday 27 September, which outlined the threats facing traditional ale producers in the UK in 2018.

The cask market is in trouble, with overall volumes down by 6.8% since 2017, according to the report. While a decline is not wholly unexpected given the rate of pub closures across Britain, the situation, it said, is “worse than it should be.”

Cask ale is losing out to competitors in the craft beer and premium lager sectors. While the overall on-trade beer market declined by 1.6% over the past 12 months, premium lager has actually risen by 2.2%.

But while craft brewers have prioritised advertising kegged beers, cask still plays an important role in the on-trade. It makes up 55% of the overall on-trade category, according to figures from the CGA, while in a survey of 900 licensees carried out by Cask Marque found that the overwhelming majority (84%) believe that cask is “as important to their business or even more important than it was four years ago.”

“Seventeen pubs a week are closing, ripping the hearts out of communities – but thriving sales of cask ale can help keep pubs open,” according to the report’s editor Matt Eley.

A number of high-profile figures in the UK’s brewing sector, including Cask Marque director Paul Nunny, beer writer Pete Brown, Heineken category manager Andy Wingate and Brewhouse & Kitchen CEO Kris Gumbrell spoke at the report launch on Thursday, outlining their views on what is going wrong in cask beer, and what the industry can do to save the tradition.

We’ve outlined the key issues facing brewers who produce a large quantity of cask beer, and ways that businesses and regulatory bodies are already trying to fix them.

One Response to “3 reasons cask beer is declining in UK pubs, and 3 ways it can change”

  1. David P Woodhead says:

    The 4th reason for the decline, particularly in PubCo owned pubs; Could it be the extremely high cost to the tenant, of a firkin of ale, which in many cases can be twice the price of the same beer, direct from the brewery? SIBA take a percentage the PubCo add their “commission’ then V.A.T.

    If that is NOT the 4th reason, please explain to me why it isn’t

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