“It gives two weekends for celebrating real ale – and for spreading the good word to more people,” says Paul Nunny from Cask Marque. “Cask Ale Week provides a fantastic opportunity for pubs and clubs to shout about real ale, highlighting the fact that it’s our national drink, and encouraging new people to try it.”
So what’s Cask Ale Week all about? Paul explains “There is still a huge gap of knowledge in the industry, let alone among the general public, about what makes the beer from a hand pull special. Cask Ale Week, dedicated to raising the profile of cask-conditioned beer, can help plug that gap in knowledge, and entice drinkers back through the doors of their locals.”
Any outlet selling cask ale can participate in Cask Ale Week which is supported by over 160,000 CAMRA members and backed by over 9,500 Cask Marque accredited pubs. This is your chance to really shout about your cask ale range and get your pub on the real ale map.
Cask Ale Week is about getting:
- Non-cask ale drinkers to try real ale for the first time
- Existing cask drinkers to try something different to their usual tipple
- Non-cask ale pubs to consider stocking cask ale for the first time
- Pubs to organise a number of cask ale events to increase awareness amongst consumers of how great a drink cask ale is, and ‘bust’ some misconceptions about it as a drink
Cask ale has come a long way in the last ten years; the quality is better, the range of beers available is unprecedented and increasingly it’s appealing to a younger set of drinkers as a sociable drink, full of flavour.
“Try Before You Buy” is a great way to encourage non cask drinkers to experience to try real ale for the first time. Non cask drinkers may have pre-conceived ideas about how it tastes or they may be overwhelmed and unsure about the range of beers on your bar. Sampling is vital in encouraging new (or lapsed) drinkers to try cask ale, and it’s a great bit of customer service.
So get your staff behind Cask Ale Week! Personal recommendations are the most powerful form of selling. Even if your team don’t drink cask ale, get them to use the Cyclops Beer tasting notes from www.cyclopsbeer.co.uk to describe and recommend a beer to customers.
Think Food and Beer. This is a very new idea to most people as many have been ‘conditioned’ to choose wine to go with food. But with the variety of different cask ales on the market now we can find some great matches to go with the food on your menu, even better than wine. The biscuity, malty, caramel flavours in traditional British ale really suit sausage and mash, pies, roast meats – and even apple pie! If you’re not sure what food to put with beer use a service provided by ‘Beer for That’. All you need to do is tweet the name of a dish to @BeerForThat with the hashtag #BeerMatch, and you’ll get an instant reply with a recommended beer for that food.
If you are a Cask Marque accredited pub you will be automatically registered on the Cask Ale Week website (www.caskaleweek.co.uk).
Cask Marque lists all its accredited pubs on ‘Caskfinder’, a free app for smartphones. The app enables users to find Cask Marque pubs either by a specific postcode search or by automatically finding pubs nearest the user with the GPS function. The popularity and usefulness of the app is reflected in the number of users, and to date it has now been downloaded by 160,000 users. The app will be used to drive customers into pubs participating in Cask Ale Week.
In addition, every Cask Marque accredited pub is now included in the ‘World’s Biggest Ale Trail’. Every pub has been sent a certificate with a unique QR code on it. Using the CaskFinder app, customers are encouraged to scan the QR code and register their visits to Cask Marque pubs. Over 26,000 cask consumers have already registered and are participating in the ale trail. When a customer collects 25 scans a prize is awarded.
Pubs will be encouraged to organise their own events and logos are available to download and use on any promotional material from the Cask Ale Week website. Some events and ideas which have worked particularly well over the past couple of years are:
- Meet the Brewer evenings – getting a local brewer to host an evening’s sampling in your pub (contact details for all brewers in the UK are listed in The Good Beer Guide)
- Beer themed quiz nights (a quiz is available to download on the Cask Ale Week website)
- Beer Tapas or Sharing platters (1/3 pint glasses)
- Guess the Cask Ale or Create a Name for the Cask Ale (mystery cask ale on the bar)
- Autumn Beer Festival – showcase a range of British ales
- Food and Beer Evenings – matching cask ales with the food on your menu (a great way to encourage repeat visits)
- Tutored Beer Tastings (find a local Beer Sommelier by visiting www.beeracademy.co.uk)
The main thing is that Cask Marque knows about your event! Go to www.caskaleweek.co.uk and fill in the form, and they will promote your event on the Cask Ale Week website.
This post has been written by guest blogger – Annabel Smith, and first appeared in Carlsberg UK’s July edition of it’s ‘Deals’ brochure which is distributed to 6,500 free-trade customers accross the UK.