The cask ale category is now worth £1.7bn a year, according to the latest Cask Report.

The report shows that the number of pubs selling cask ale has risen from 23,000 (42% of total pubs) in 2007, when the first edition was published, to 36,600 (72% of pubs) now. The number of Cask Marque accredited pubs has increased 160% from 3,690 in 2005 to 9,670 in 2015.

This year’s report emphasises the role of knowledgeable and communicative bar staff, with research showing 92% of consumers want to know more about the different styles of beer but 60% say pubs don’t offer sufficient tasting notes and only 36% believe bar staff have an understanding of cask.

“It is clear that it’s no longer enough to be able to pour a decent pint,” said the report’s author Sophie Atherton. “Bar staff need to understand how cask ales are different from other beers; they need to be able to describe them; they need to be the ones starting the cask conversation.”

In response, Cask Marque has added a ‘pump clip recognition’ facility on its CaskFinder app, which allows customers to take a picture of a pump clip and receive tasting notes and further information, including reviews.

The report shows 81% of Cask Marque pubs to be growing sales. According to the research, 90% of consumers say beer quality is very important or essential when choosing where to drink. Additionally, cask drinkers spend on average £967 a year in pubs - nearly twice the amount other drinkers spend. “Given that, it’s a commercial no-brainer to make sure pub staff know how to look after, taste and judge the cask ale they are serving,” according to Paul Nunny, of Cask Marque.

The report says on average Cask Marque pubs each grew beer sales by 4% last year. The CaskFinder App is currently used 60,000 times a month to find Cask Marque pubs, with 24,000 people taking part in its World’s Biggest Ale Trail. They visit 3,500 new pubs each week.

The publication of the Cask Report signals the start of Cask Ale Week. During the 10 day ‘Week’ over 10,000 pints of ale will be given away free, with a view to bringing more people into pubs and of persuading drinkers to try something new. Events are being run in pubs and breweries up and down the country.

The report also includes new figures from the British Beer and Pub Association, which show cask ale is responsible for:

  • 94,000 jobs
  • £1.1 bn wages
  • £2.2 bn gross value added
  • £1.3 bn tax revenue generated

“Those figures are in themselves worth celebrating,” Nunny said. “They provide a further compelling reason for the industry to ensure that our national drink remains right at the centre of Britain’s big food and drink conversation.”