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Cask ale drinkers tend to be upmarket (68.5% are social grade ABC1). They are more comfortable about their financial situation, and tend to be at a life stage with fewer financial commitments. They therefore have more disposable income, and visit pubs more often.
The number of 18-24s drinking it remains low – but increased by 17% year on year. There were slight declines in 25-44 year olds, and healthy increases among 45-54 year olds and the over 65s. 1.9 million cask ale drinkers – 20% of the total – are aged 18-34. Cask ale is recruiting younger drinkers.
Analysing the attitudes and lifestyles of cask ale drinkers and comparing them to beer drinkers who do not drink cask ale can be quite revealing as to the motivations for drinking cask ale.
In terms of broad attitudes towards the world, careers and technology, cask ale drinkers tend to agree with statements that are more thoughtful, inquisitive and curious. They are active in their leisure time, interested in what goes on in the world, and like to stay informed about everything from international events to developments in technology. This attitude is also reflected in the fact that they read a lot of newspapers. They’re twice as likely to read quality dailies like the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent, but more likely to read any newspaper overall apart from the Star, Sun and in Scotland the Daily Record. (It’s worth noting here that coverage of beer in quality newspapers has shown a steady increase over the last year – a sign that newspapers are beginning to recognize the importance of cask beer to their readers.)
Focusing on food and drink, we can see this curiosity coupled with a desire for quality. Food and drink are clearly very important to them. They pay attention to where their food comes from, buy quality ingredients and enjoy going to restaurants. When it comes to drink specifically, cask ale drinkers look for quality rather than quantity. They certainly enjoy a drink, but not to get drunk. This overall attitude of quality and open-mindedness makes perfect sense for a drink that is as crafted and has as much diversity as cask ale. In drinks marketing there tends to be an assumption that when drinkers reach their mid-thirties, they become set in their ways and don’t change their brand preferences. Anyone who has spent time with committed cask drinkers will know that they turn this stereotype on its head.
Older, more experienced drinkers love to experiment and constantly seek out new beers they haven’t tried before, benchmarking them against the familiar beers they know. This explains why guest ale programmes are so successful in many pubs.