This week is ‘Cask Ale Week’ – the annual celebration of everything ‘cask’, with pubs throughout the country running promotions, competitions, events, and beer festivals to celebrate the classic British pint.

Way back during the first lockdown (at least 2,897 years ago now!), KAM carried out some research in partnership with Brew//LDN; we had a strong suspicion that beer drinkers had changed their habits during lockdown but the extent to which these beer enthusiasts – people who already really “know their beers” – had been switching things up was more surprising than we imagined. (Take a look at the research here.)

Changes in how we consume beer

Even after just 3 months under Covid restrictions, beer drinkers were reporting that they were doing several things differently. Some of the key changes were that beer drinkers were experimenting more – 91% had tried a new beer. Furthermore, they were getting their beers from a wider range of places, with 31% purchasing direct from physical breweries and taprooms more often.

But 18 months on, are these changes still relevant? Have we seen a shift in medium to long-term consumer trends? And the answer, according to our most recent research is, oh yes, we have! More than 3-in-5 beer drinkers say that these ‘new’ beer-drinking habits adopted during the last 18 months will remain.

The rise in demand for locally sourced beer and a rise in awareness of local breweries is good news for cask ale. The traditional pint may have taken a backseat over the last few years to the rise in popularity of craft beer, however, these consumer trends are ripe for cask to tap into. Some of this is discussed in our recent Hospitality Talks episode with award-winning beer writer Emma Inch (see below.)

Understanding beer enthusiasts

Cask Ale Week is a perfect opportunity for breweries and operators to ride this consumer wave and encourage the beer enthusiasts (and those beer drinkers less ofay with the category- “cask flirts” if you will) to visit their local pubs and try a range of cask beers from local breweries.

The ‘at-home’ drinking occasion has boomed during lockdown, for obvious reasons, and again this is a trend that is here to stay. An average of £4,000 per household has been spent on home improvements and renovations over the last 12 months. Therefore we expect ‘hospitality at home’ to continue.

Once again, this should be a call to arms for cask ale. For cask is one of those ‘experiences’ that is very hard, if not impossible, to replicate at home. More than ever, operators need to provide unique tastes, unique products, and unique experiences to encourage customers to leave their homes – cask can provide that opportunity.

So, get out there, visit your local pub this week, enjoy a local cask ale, and be thankful that the greatest of Great British pints is here and is better than ever.

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