Why you should ask for cask...

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Ask if it’s Cask!

This is the message you can see on posters all over the county: a bold new CAMRA advertising campaign featuring cask ale and reminding drinkers of the quality choice.

Yet for all the effort that we’re putting into it, and for all the support we’ve received, we still won’t be able to spend even a fraction as much on promoting Real Ale and defending drinkers’ choice as a national brewer can spend on a single lager or smooth beer brand!

That says it all, really.

Big brewers are interested in big brands. They spend millions on pushing their own brands and knocking the brands of their rivals. Their ambition is to shoulder all others aside and to freeze out the competition. But CAMRA is interested in choice. Variety. A pub culture where there are beers of all styles and characters to suit people of all styles and characters. You choose lager? OK. You choose smooth beers? That’s up to you. But we’d like to be able to choose real ale, and unfortunately, in all too many pubs, that choice no longer exists.

Big brewers have been yanking the hand pumps out of pubs all over the place, to create the impression of “consumer demand” for smooth beers– which are more profitable because they are easier to store and serve, and don’t have any wastage. But it’s bogus. Thousands of smooth beer drinkers only put up with it because their local no longer sells real ale. We know the demand is there, because regional and micro-brewers are reporting rising sales in the 20% of the market they control. However in the 80% of the market controlled by the big boys, power over supply is being used to distort demand.

That’s why CAMRA is taking to the billboards. We are fighting for choice and variety. We do not knock people who prefer lager or smooth beer. We want to persuade people who prefer the real thing to demand it on their local pub, and to refuse to be fobbed off with something they regard as second best. Only when every pub in the land has a hand pump alongside the lager and smoothflow fonts will licensees be able to say – and mean it – that;


So don’t forget to “ask if it’s cask” next time you go to the pub!

And here's why....

Above, we set out our new campaign, to persuade people to ask for cask beer when they visit a pub. But why should people bother? What’s so special about real ale? Why not take what you are given?

We asked around some of the more perceptive people we know, and here are a few of the responses.

Because you should drink what you want, not what some advertising executive tells you to.

Good food and drink are always made by eccentrics, by people who love what they do. When you let the accountants run the show, quality goes out the window. Look at ******’s! (a well-known burger chain)

It’s a sign of independence, of rebellion, of standing up to the forces of Mammon. It’s staying in touch with your roots. Remember the old man Winston Smith met in 1984? He had no time for Big Brother, he wanted his pint of wallop. He wasn’t articulate or powerful, he just knew that he wanted no part of the Newspeak, and he held on to what he had always loved.

It tastes better and costs less!

I want choice. I want variety. I can go out and find ten beers I’ve never had before, any night of the week, thanks to the independents. If the big boys had their way, there wouldn’t be that many beers in the world!

When I started drinking, around the age of eighteen, it was in the middle of the nasty keg revolution of the Seventies. Most beer was fizzy keg, and there were the same damn brand names everywhere you looked. I thought I didn’t like beer. It was gassy and metallic. In my first year of university, a lecturer took us all to a pub at Firhill and bought us each a pint of Belhaven’s Light. It was the first Real Ale I had ever tasted. I was astonished. I haven’t touched keg beer since. There’s no point: it’s just not good enough.

All contents copyright © 2004, Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA Branch.
All rights reserved. Last Revised: April 21, 2004
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