to Real Ale Homepage.
We at pub-explorer will be
identifying publicans who have been awarded the Cask Marque. Here is
their explanation of what this means.
After the growth in cask ale sales in the
U.K. in the 70's and 80's, helped and supported by CAMRA, the 90's have
seen a reverse in this trend. Many explanations have been put forward,
but our research shows (see section Why Cask Marque?) that quality is a
key issue. We need both to retain the traditional cask ale drinker as
well as attracting new younger drinkers to this sector. This can only be
achieved by raising standards and delivering to the consumer a cool,
refreshing and consistent pint every time.
To improve the quality of cask ale at the
point of dispense by awarding a nationally recognized and respected
Marque to the licensee when quality standards have been met. This should
achieve the following :
BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH RESULTS
Cask ale has been showing significant volume decline over the last 2
years, currently over 10% per annum. There are a number of reasons for
this - the main areas are the growth of “nitrokegs”, the effect of
the hot summers of ‘95, ‘96 and ‘97, possible stocking of cask
ales in unsuitable outlets during the early ‘90's. Cask ale
throughputs have declined, and it is believed that this will have
The four brewers, Adnams, Greene King, Marstons and Morlands who have
initiated and sponsored this project had clear anecdotal evidence of
poor quality standards but no hard evidence, so a comprehensive piece of
field research was commissioned.
A survey was conducted in the Spring of ‘97 using qualified
auditors who visited over 1,000 pubs throughout England of which 82%
stocked traditional cask ale. An independent Market Research specialist
determined the sample frame and methodology.
Its findings showed:
a) The quality of the pint in the glass was so poor in 23% of the
outlets that inspectors stated they would not buy the pint again.
b) Poor quality was directly linked to the number of hand pulls on the
bar. In 54% of the cases where inspectors stated they would not buy this
pint again, too many brands on the bar was cited as a contributory
factor. Pubs with over 5 hand pulls saw a marked drop in mean scores.
c) The other major cause of poor quality was failure to serve beer at
the appropriate temperature (20% of all samples), but this was often
linked to overall impressions of poor quality pub management in these
d) The worst performers with regard to beer quality were the independent
free trade outlets, particularly in the south and south west of the
e) Poor quality was found in all types of pub, without significant
variance between food pubs, rural pubs or city centre outlets.
WHY IS AN ACCREDITATION SCHEME NECESSARY?
Having explored a number of options for trying to address the quality
issue, an industry-wide accreditation scheme was considered to be the
most effective way of achieving a quick and lasting improvement.
Many companies have taken individual quality initiatives, some
setting very high standards and investing a lot of money. However, none
appears to have achieved national recognition, and none are seen as
entirely objective. The research results show that the net effect of all
this effort has not been satisfactory.
An accreditation scheme will achieve wider consumer awareness in the
medium term (3 years depending on level of adoption and surrounding P.R.)
but should achieve high awareness among the Trade, opinion forming
drinkers and the Trade press within 12-18 months. The latter point will
be the key to its initial effectiveness - licensees will want the award
to confirm their cask ale skills and a stigma will be attached to
failure. This will allow training to be focused and its importance
accepted by the Trade. The scheme will focus only on cask ales, but in
practice a licensee who handles his cask ales well will apply the same
hygiene and stock rotation to his entire range.
The scheme must be seen to be independent
and objective if it is to achieve credibility and status - the industry
will need to fund and will set the initial parameters for accreditation,
but must not influence the detailed operation.
How does the scheme work?
The scheme is operated by an
independent body called Cask Marque Trust which is a limited
company, limited by guarantee, and a non profit making organisation.
The company is run by a management committee elected by its members.
The members who effectively pay a subscription will include
representatives from brewers, retailers, trade bodies and consumer
Pubs that apply to join
are visited by the independent assessor unannounced on two successive
occasions in the first three months and subsequently twice a year,
once in the winter and once in the summer.
The assessor check all cask ales
for - temperature, appearance, aroma and taste.
If the pub passes it receives a plaque
framed certificate and merchandising material to inform its
customers of the award and their rights.
The customers are encouraged to
comment independently on the quality of cask ale in the pub to the
Cask Marque organisation.
Temperature is now one of the key
objectives for judging a good cask ale, along with appearance, aroma
and taste. Cask ale should be served cool not warm ideally at cellar
temperature 11°- 13°C (53° - 55°F).
We have RAISED THE PROFILE OF
QUALITY within the trade. We now need to educate the consumer
on what they should expect.
To view our website please click on the