Tuesday, 9 October 2018

It doesn’t add up

I’ve done an analysis like this before, but it’s worth repeating in the light of the recent highlighting of the widespread quality issues with cask beer. The latest edition of the Cask Report states than one in seven pints sold in British pubs is now cask. According to the British Beer & Pub Association, total on-trade beer sales in the year to the end of June 2018 were 12.549 million bulk barrels. One-seventh of that is 1.793 million barrels. CAMRA’s WhatPub website states that there are 35,777 pubs in the country serving cask ale.

Even if we ignore sales to clubs and beer festivals, that means that the average pub sells 50 barrels a year, or just under one a week. That’s 276 pints a week, or a mere 40 per day. Assuming that beer is generally sold in 9-gallon firkins, that means the average pub can only have two cask lines if it wants to make sure it empties a cask within three or four days. Yet how many handpumps does the typical cask pub you go in have? Considerably more than two. And we wonder why so much beer ends up in poor condition.

22 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised by this, but as is often the case, mean averages don't really tell the whole story. There are pubs that sell far fewer than 40 pints of cask beer a day and others that routinely shift 2-300.

    The number of active handpumps does not correlate directly with the quality of beer dispensed therefrom, no matter how appealing the theory seems. The worst cask beer out there is just as likely to be found in the pubs with one or two handpumps and no fucker drinking the stuff, while destination pubs with double figures of cask beers are often sticklers for quality. (And when they're not, HS2 comes along to save the day...)

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    1. Of course, and I don't think the Magnet in Stockport has much problem with slow turnover. But plenty of pubs fancy themselves as beer destinations when they don't remotely have the trade to support it.

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  2. Bears repeating. And even if every pub had two beers on you'd still have a cask ale lottery with beer taking 3-4 days to shift on average.

    Of course, you'll get folk telling you THEIR award winning micro/free house rotates their beers twice a day,as cask sells like hotcakes.

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  3. The Stafford Mudgie9 October 2018 at 14:39

    That's a very useful back-of-a-fag-packet calculation.

    The variation in sales must be considerable.
    I'm sure a pub ten minutes walk from me sells more like forty pints a week than forty pints a day of Doom Bar, its only cask beer.
    Yet I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Partridge and the Lynd Cross each sell forty pints of cask beer an hour, and that's during the quietest day of the week in January.

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  4. I have to mention the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel. Three permanent and one guest cask beer, each of which sell at least one nine a day on average, sometimes much more. It's not unusual to get through seven on on a busy Saturday or Sunday. Pubs like this are the exception of course.

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  5. Wonder what the average would be if you remove the Spoons?

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    1. Doesn't make a huge amount of difference. Assume there are 1,000 Spoons branches, and they each sell 1,000 pints of cask beer a week. That gives them annual sales of 180k barrels, or just over 10% of the market, which is in line with other figures I have seen. The remaining 34,777 pubs then sell an average of 257 pints a week, or 37 a day.

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  6. To be fair the amount of pumps vs the amount of beers on sale at any given time doesn't necessarily reflect on what is ready and waiting in the cellar.

    Logically pubs know what times and what beers sell and when and casks will be tapped and vented in readiness.

    In theory.

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  7. Ok those numbers don't reflect the local beer scene I experience, I remember back when the snowpocalypse this year cut off a local well known cask ale brewery from their normal delivery to local towns,I was there when the landlord of the tied brewery pub i was in called them up and said we only have enough beer left for 2 days, they have at least 6 hand cask ales on at all times. There's at least two more pubs I know locally are replacing 4 beers behind the bar every day,that's their turnover of firkins daily,not necessarily ones they put on that day,but 4 beers go and need replacing on average daily. So id say just on that the worst case is there must be plenty of pubs keeping beer on for much longer past the week.

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  8. The Stafford Mudgie10 October 2018 at 09:59

    So it's just short of ten million pints of cask beer a week which is just ONE pint a month for each adult.
    At that rate during most months I drink the cask beer for my street.

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  9. I read that 30% of the young are now TT. Having seen us lot, who can blame them?

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  10. This is another reason why I tend to produce strong beers. They do keep well if the lines et al are clean and kept that way. Of course there may be a trade off because of those who drive. That said, one of mine in my local that sold out in a day a couple of weeks ago has only sold 11 pints this week so far. Same quality. ABV is 5.5% so not outrageous. The 8.4% ABV stout is on too and still tastes gorgeous.

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  11. The Stafford Mudgie10 October 2018 at 12:03

    Yes, 30% of the young are now TT and suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35.
    On World Mental Health Day 2018 we should perhaps reflect on the challenges for young people in a changing world. As a sixteen to eighteen year old I would meet up with other sixth formers at the weekend for a few pints in one of the pubs nearest to where we lived, often the Ascot Tavern or Four Crosses, and I'm quite sure that was better for us than being on social media at home as youngster nowadays do instead.

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    1. That's because we socialised, instead of cyber-socialising which is quite often the opposite. Facebook is very good at allowing people to suffer peer pressure and bullying without the benefits of face to face contact.

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  12. Why is cask beer not popular?

    It it because it's not much cop?

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    1. Perhaps "because it is not consistent" is nearer the truth. I doubt if lager would be so popular if it varied wildly in quality.

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    2. imagine any other product where those who advocated it thought it the pinnacle despite varying wildly in quality.

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    3. Well, er, food, quite generally, Cookie

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    4. But when it's on top form, it is the pinnacle.

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    5. Not sure I want to risk a kebab at Anons local takeaway.

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  13. How about steak? Aged and cooked properly, yum yum. Not, and yak.

    Yet it's oft held up as the pinnacle.

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