Brewery affirms its commitment to brewing cask ale in 2020, and announces a Cask Care Scheme to provide better training and support for publicans.
The Five Points Brewing Company, London’s largest independent brewery, has reported a year of incredible growth for its cask ale sales in 2019.
In a climate of declining cask sales each year, alongside the rising popularity of draught lagers and craft beers on keg, the brewery’s cask sales are bucking the general industry downturn.
Ed Mason, Managing Director of Five Points, explains “There is still a massive market for cask beer in the UK, and I think that people really respond to seeing a newer brewery such as Five Points producing cask beers well.”
“For Five Points”, Mason continues, “cask beer is not an occasional limited edition experiment. We are completely committed to cask beer as a core part of our range. I think people like the fact that we merge the best of the traditional with the best of the new, and focus on producing balanced, drinkable beers.”
- Five Points cask category grew from 20% of their total volume sold in 2018, to over 26% in 2019. Calculated against the brewery’s production expansion of the last 12 months, this equates to an increase of more than double the amount of cask ale sold year on year. Which, in more drinkable terms, is a growth of 325,000 pints.
- In September 2019, The Cask Report published that as of July 2019, cask sales in the UK were -4.8% overall. The only month that had seen the cask category grow was July 2019: the first month of growth for 17 months.
- Since declaring its commitment to cask ale brewing in 2018, Five Points has continued to invest in the category; adding a brand new cask-only core range beer, working with hop farmers to showcase British hops, and investing in cask-focussed events and marketing.
- The brewery is establishing a free Cask Training Scheme for its customers in 2020 which aims to better support publicans serving cask ale. As an incentive, attendees will be offered a 50% discount on a Five Points cask once completing the training session.
Cask Ale Successes In 2019
In 2018, following a number of high-profile craft brewers announcing their intention to scale down cask ale production, Five Points declared its commitment to cask ale brewing. In Spring last year, the brewery released its first core range cask-only beer, Five Points Best, a classic Best Bitter hopped with British Fuggles hops. Since its launch, Five Points Best has sold over 100,000 pints, growing to over 3% of Five Points’ total beer sales in its 8 months on sale.
“In a market where novelty and special releases can tend to dominate” says Greg Hobbs, Head Brewer of The Five Points, “it’s refreshing to see that the classic cask beer styles, which showcase good ingredients, balance and drinkability, still resonate with the modern beer drinker.”
Investment in the Category
Five Points has continued to invest in the profile and brand awareness of its cask category, showcasing Five Points Best at the typically keg-beer-focussed London Craft Beer Festival this summer, and hosting their own Cask Bar at the Great British Beer Festival in August.
Annually, Five Points partners with fourth-generation hop farm, Hukins Hops in Kent, to showcase British hop varieties in their Green Hop Bitter series.
Cask Care Scheme
Five Points wants to take greater responsibility to support pubs and publicans who serve their cask ale. This year, the brewery will run monthly cask training sessions at their pub, The Pembury Tavern. These will be open to Five Points customers, and will provide training on the principles and practice of serving excellently conditioned, great quality cask ale.
According to the 2019 Cask Report, over 75% of customers think that a cask pint over 16° is too warm. The Report cites warm serving temperatures and the need for better training as major problems with customer experiences with cask ale, and key areas for improvement.
Five Points’ Cask Care Scheme will focus on cellar and serving temperatures, alongside reiterating the importance of conditioning time and cleanliness in all aspects of serving. Attendees on the Cask Care Scheme will also be given a printed 8-Point Cask Care Guide to be used in their cellars to help staff.
An Incentive for Publicans
The 2019 Cask Report noted that engagement with cask, on a survey level for example, is often undertaken by those who already know and love cask. Unsurprisingly, the publicans who serve cask well are interested in cask, and are therefore more likely to attend training.
The Five Points Cask Care Scheme will incentivise attending a Cask Care Scheme Session with a 50% discount on a cask of Five Points beer, in the hopes of encouraging bar managers who aren’t necessarily already invested in serving cask on the bar.
Cask Ambassador Appointed
To execute the 2020 Cask Care Scheme, Five Points has appointed a Cask Ambassador, their Sales & Account Manager, Ed Davy.
“Cask is, generally, perceived as a high-effort, low-GP product that doesn’t sell well”, Davy explains. “This does not have to be the case”, he continues. “We hope that this scheme will help pubs more easily look after their cask ale, whilst improving GP, yield, rate of sale and customer satisfaction. Our on-trade partners deserve to have the best cask experience possible.”
“We think brewers on the whole can do more to support the customers who stock and serve their cask ale: your responsibility as a producer shouldn’t end once your cask is out the door. A poor quality pint, in the customer’s eyes, is as much the brewery’s fault as anyone else’s.”
The Five Points Brewing Company is an independent brewery based in Hackney, East London, brewing since 2013 with a commitment to quality and the community. Five Points proudly brews British modern classics; influenced by the heritage of real ale, as much as the best of the modern craft beer movement. Flavourful, balanced, and always unfiltered and unpasteurized, Five Points package their beers into cask, keg, can and bottle.
Hi-res imagery to support this Press Release can be found here.