Cask Ale Notes from Britain

Cask Marque is a British brewery-funded organization dedicated to assuring that every one of the 5400+ accredited pubs are doing a proper job keeping and serving their cask-conditioned ale. To this end, they have 49 inspectors who travel around sampling pints – tastes only, no sessions when you need to get back in the car and drive another hundred kilometres! – and making sure that standards are maintained.

(Note to Greene King haters: The oft maligned brewery was one of four that initially set up Cask Marque, so proper credit where credit is due on that front.)

I mention this both to bring Cask Marque to your attention, because if you ever drink in the U.K., whether as a resident or visitor, you really should know that the little Cask Marque badge in the pub’s window really does mean something, and to introduce an article that appeared recently in Time Out. It’s interesting reading, but more fascinating to me is the tidbit of information tossed into it subheader, to wit:

Eight women in ten haven’t tried real ale.

I can’t say that really surprises me, even in our post-Madonna-drinks-Landlord world, but it truly is a damn shame, really. With its low carbonation – bubbles being something that many women I’ve spoken to complain about with respect to draught and bottled beer – and soft textures, cask ale would seem ideally suited to the female palate, providing, of course, that the first encounter or two aren’t assertively bitter, as per the point Ms. Smith makes towards the end of the article.

Something needs be done to change this state of affairs, and it needs to start with the brewers and publicans who made cask ale such a boys thing in the first place.

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