Drinking real ale is good for the economy: it’s official.
Trips to coffee shop or restaurant chains are one thing. But visits to the pub for a glass of real ale with its British ingredients are quite another in terms of helping boost the local and national economy.
Every pint ordered gives a lift to the nation’s booming brewing industry, and helps to create jobs and keep local pubs open. So says the newly published Cask Report. It shows that each job in brewing generates 18 jobs in pubs, one in agriculture, one in the supply chain and one in shops.
At least three new breweries are opening every week, taking the number to more than 1,700. Between them, they are producing over 10,000 different cask ales a year. With the increasing adventurousness of brewers, and growing experimentation with beer styles, choice has never been better.
Almost half of Britons and 70% of real ale drinkers recognise the vital role cask ale plays in supporting the economy. Awareness of its artisan production using British ingredients is growing.
“Virtually all cask ale brewers use barley grown and malted in Britain,” says Paul Nunny, responsible for creating the report. “They create a fresh product with live yeast, no added gas and limited shelf life. A second fermentation in the pub cellar is needed to complete the brewing process. That’s why cask (real) ale is unique to the pub and can’t be bought at the supermarket.”
The research shows that real ale drinkers are the most frequent users of pubs – and spend more there than anyone else. Their £1,030 a year on food and drink is 30% more than the average adult spend in pubs (£770 a year) – and is 6.5% up on two years ago. Two in five real ale drinkers visit the pub once a week or more.
The top reason given by ale drinkers for visiting the pub is to go for a drink or meal with family or friends (79%). Others include work social event (38%), dinner deals (30%), pub quizzes (30%), live music (28%), TV big games (23%), dates (20%) and work meetings (13%).
The message the Cask Report sends to licensees is to make sure they do a great job for customers, for whatever kind of occasion they are visiting the pub. “This includes getting the quality of their beer right,” Says Nunny. “Pubs are still closing at the rate of around 21 a week, many simply because the offer or the quality is not good enough. The Report shows that pubs with a focus on quality beer are performing well. Most are increasing sales of real ale – and sales of other food and drink on the back of that.”
He urges pubs to pay heed to the opportunities associated with a great cask ale offer. “It is real, natural, flavoursome beer served from a hand pump that differentiates pubs from all the other food and drink venues springing up on high streets up and down the country. If they can get their beer right and train their staff properly (including getting them to taste and describe the ales they have on offer), they stand a good chance of bringing in the very people who will make the pub viable.”
To underline the contribution brewing makes to the British economy, the Cask Report points to capital investment being made to expand beer production, modernise equipment and enlarge premises. SIBA, the organisation representing independent breweries, says that 12% of its 840 members are investing over £50,000 and a further 10% over £100,000 this year. This represents a minimum of £13 million on capital projects alone.
“The Report shows that this entrepreneurial sector of the British economy is creating value across the supply chain, including manufacturing and engineering, creating jobs and supporting crucial social networks and local pubs.”