In the UK,
Cask beer sales are outperforming the rest of the market and real ale is gradually taking a bigger share of the total market.
According to the latest Cask Report, sales of cask beer in 2009 remained stable on the previous year – the first time since 1994 they have not seen a decline – and cask ale’s share of the total beer market is up for the third consecutive year.
And research suggests that once women get a taste for real ale, they become enthusiastic supporters – women account for 15 per cent of real ale drinkers, but make up 23.4 per cent of the Campaign for Real Ale’s members.
29 October 2010
Written by award-winning beer writer Pete Brown, the Cask Report is sponsored by UK breweries and related trade associations. There is no analogue in the US.
Here, we've been producing cask ale since the inception of micro-brewing, but, despite the success of festivals such as the former US Real Ale Festival and the current New England Real Ale Exposition (NERAX), cask ale has, up to now, filled only a tiny niche.
I'm in the business of selling beer, and in the last five years, I've observed a dramatic increase of sales of cask ales (and lagers). Festivals such as the 7th annual Chesapeake Real Ale Festival —recently held in Baltimore, Maryland, run by the only US branch of the Society of Beer From the Wood (SPBW)— are part of that renaissance. The men in attendance still outnumber the women, but that difference is diminishing every year.
The percentage of cask growth in the US may appear large, but, beginning as it does from a minuscule initial sample, that figure is misleading. Actual production is small relative to that of bottle and draft. Furthermore, much of this is conjecture and anecdote. The US-based Brewers Association —an advocacy group for US breweries that produce less than 2 million barrels annually— publishes craft beer figures but does not collect statistics on cask beer production or demographic beer preferences.