The date of this year’s Cask Ale Week has just been announced. It takes place from 28th September to 7th October and is following the Try Before You Buy theme. Cask Ale Week is being organised by Cask Marque with support from CAMRA and has a new strapline – Only in Britain, Only in Pubs!
“The theme and the strapline are aimed to attract people back into pubs,” says Paul Nunny, director of Cask Marque, “as well as to get people sampling cask ale, our national drink. They should provide a great platform for breweries and pubs to talk about what differentiates cask ale from the other beers on the bar and from ale on the supermarket shelves,” he says. “By making Cask Ale Week into a real celebration, an extension of all the 2012 activities, between us all we can make a real impact.”
According to Paul, “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.”
CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine says “CAMRA members are in a unique position to help promote Cask Ale Week and really make a difference in raising the profile of real ale. No other British food or drink has the support of such a large group of organised consumers. Who else can mobilise the hospitality industry in the way we can? Let’s use the platform of Cask Ale Week to do what we’re best at – introducing new people to real ale and celebrating it ourselves!
“There are so many ways branches and individual members can get involved, whether in suggesting activities to licensees or brewers, running events or promoting them. So please, put the dates in your diary and start talking to your local pubs and breweries about what you can do to help. On this one, let’s work together with the industry to make Cask Ale Week a national success.”
CAMRA is providing Cask Ale Week empty belly posters and beer mats which can be ordered for pubs which want to get involved and also for those CAMRA beer festivals taking place before or during Cask Ale Week. Orders can be placed at http://www.camra.org.uk/ncaworders.
Volunteers running CAMRA websites and newsletters can provide valuable information to pub goers over the next few months by linking to the Cask Ale Week website www.caskaleweek.co.uk which will be up and running in August and by including editorial and pictures, all of which will be available from CAMRA’s national site. If you have any photos or stories from previous Cask Ale Week events, these can also be included. Twitter and Facebook are also an increasingly successful method of communicating about Cask Ale Week and getting more people involved.
The Caskfinder App, which has 50,000 uses a month, will also be used to drive trade into pubs participating in Cask Ale Week, and prizes for pubgoers using the highly successful World’s Biggest Ale Trail will be doubled during the Week.
CAMRA members can support the event by talking to local breweries and pubs and planning events with them such as real ale tastings with brewers, new beer launches, beer and food matching lunches or evenings, real ale passport schemes and events aimed at encouraging more women to try real ale.
According to Black Sheep Brewery “our FemAle Tasting Day as part of Cask Ale Week went down a treat. It provided an opportunity to get together a group of women who had never even tried real ale before – and to initiate them with its many pleasures! Annabel Smith from Cask Marque led the tasting, introducing them to the amazing range of flavours and aromas and talking about the ingredients and fresh nature of cask-conditioned beer. We finished the tasting with a large group of converts to ale!”
A number of breweries have used Cask Ale Week to launch a new beer which is a great way of celebrating the event. Last year St Austell launched seasonal ale made with fresh hops harvested from Hereford. Head brewer Roger Ryman made a one-day round trip from Cornwall to Hereford to pick fresh hops for the new Harvest Ale, and he and beer guru Roger Protz conducted tastings at the brewery. This year St Austell’s will be supplying pubs with stemmed half pint glasses to help with food and beer matching, and will be holding tutored tastings at the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival, which they sponsor.
Last year Liberation Brewery in Jersey kicked off Cask Ale Week with a brewery open day complete with live music, a beer bus (where people could ‘hop on’ for a chat with head brewer Paul Hurley) , food and demonstrations from local producers. This year they will be doing ‘Try Before You Buy’ in pubs and head brewer Paul Hurley will be conducting charity brewery tours.
Lee Williams of Thwaites Brewery says: “Our Third Pint glasses went down really well and tied in with the Try Before You Buy theme. We intend to run this again this year – but with more glassware and branded paddles. We’ll have a choice of at least 7 cask ales for our Pubs and Free Trade bars to choose from.”
Butcombe Brewery will be holding a Brewery Open day on Saturday 29th September with loads of free beer and the Mendip Morris Men. As Guy Newell from the brewery says, “what more could you ask for?”
Every CAMRA member is being asked to get the dates in the diary and to commit to doing at least one visible thing to support the event.
Further info: Frances Brace
Red Flame Communications