Last night, I went to the launch of the latest Cask Ale Report which has now been rechristened The Cask Report and is again written by leading beer writer, Pete Brown, on behalf of the major players in the sector, Cask Marque, CAMRA, IFBB, SIBA, Adnams, Caledonian, Fuller's, Greene King, Marston's and Wells & Youngs.
The detail provides encouraging news for real ale and I recommend you dip into the actual report at the easily navigable and very readable website www.caskreport.com
Some of the following points might be secondary to the headlines in the report report itself but are still worthy of sharing :
It is the cask ale brewers that are showing most innovation in promotion and sponsorship - both Wells & Youngs and Greene King "inventing" new handpulls and both Marstons and Fullers showing commitment to sports sponsorship - with England's victory over the Aussies considered to be worth a million extra pints of Pedigree this summer.
Cask ale drinkers are about 15% more likely than other customers to eat a meal in their chosen pub.
Pubs with Cask Marque accreditation are much less likely to be a casualty of closure that others.
Cask Ale Week (29 March to 5 April) is likely to provide a sales uplift of over 25% on cask ale for those pubs taking part in that week.
Despite a lower wholesale price than other beers, cask ale brings increased turnover and profit for pubs that sell it.
62% of cask ale drinkers agree with the comment "it's worth paying more for" compared to 42% of other drinkers.
A national brand in the USA costs $3 whereas a craft brew costs $4.5
The national press are gradually recognising that cask ale is popular among their readers and although slow to move away from wine, once they see the light they will provide significantly better publicity for the category.
Finally, I think it is encouraging that CAMRA remains at this influential table. It would be easy for the major players to drift away from consumer input and forge their own furrow as in previous business cycles. The fact that the voice of the real ale drinker continues to be influential is a credit to CAMRA's Chief Executive, Mike Benner and long may it continue.
The fact that Julian Grocock, Chief Executive of SIBA is also on the committee is further proof of the influence that the growth in micro breweries is having on the sector and a clear illustration that the most efficient way to promote real ale is as a single voice encompassing all opinions.