Black Sheep Brewery is marking its 30th birthday, by embarking on a mission to tackle the misconceptions that surround cask ale, helping reposition the drink and bring it to a new, younger demographic by launching its new ‘Drink Cask Beer’ campaign.
Despite being the ‘original craft beer’, rich in flavour, variety and heritage, cask has experienced a steady decline for several years due to changing consumer habits and the growth of other drinks categories.
However, the Masham-based brewery is on a mission to change this and has begun working with a range of young creatives in the region, to tell the unique story of cask through their respective art forms.
Each piece of work focuses on different aspects of cask – from the nuances of the drink, to the care, love and attention that goes into every pint – through the artist’s own particular medium, while creating something new and unique in the process.
To launch the campaign, Black Sheep has partnered with Matt Abbott – a spoken word artist, poet, educator and activist from Wakefield – who has written a bold, powerful poem detailing the history, tradition, and relevance of cask ale for all. Abbott’s poem has then been performed in a thought-provoking video production, featuring Bradford actress, Chantelle Pierre.
The campaign underlines Black Sheep’s outspoken position in the market when it comes to cask, and is aimed at championing and supporting the entire industry, from the breweries to the licensed premises.
Black Sheep plans to continue its campaign across the coming months, and will be working with more local talent, including artists, and comedians on different creative projects.
Charlene Lyons, Chief Executive at Black Sheep Brewery, said: “Over the years, cask ale has found itself unfairly categorised as a drink for the older generation, losing ground to newer, on-trend drinks. But we know this just isn’t true – cask ale is a drink that everyone of all backgrounds, genders, cultures, and ages can enjoy (above 18 of course!).
“While we love ‘craft beer’ and know it continues to soar in popularity amongst younger drinkers, cask ale – which is really the original craft beer – seems to have been pushed to one side. But now that pubs and bars are open restriction-free, we want to challenge the misconceptions about cask beer and encourage new drinkers to swap their lager or wine for an authentic taste of real ale.
“It’s worth remembering that cask beer is the freshest drink in any pub. It’s a live product and can only actually be consumed in the pub environment. It’s difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world and is quintessentially British. These are just a few of the qualities and benefits that cask offers.
“Beyond making cask beer more visible to younger people, the ‘Drink Cask Beer’ campaign will look to educate people about this amazing form of beer, helping them understand the difference between cask and keg, what makes a good pint and where they can go to get the best examples.”
“We’ve always prided ourselves on going against the grain in this industry, and we believe this could be our biggest and boldest challenge yet!”
Matt Abbott, Wakefield poet, added: “I’m excited to be part of the Drink Cask Beer campaign! Anyone from Yorkshire knows that Black Sheep is an iconic challenger brand, and this campaign is sure to pack a punch. There are so many pre-judgments about cask ale and I think these prevent a lot of younger drinkers from even giving the drink a go, so it’s definitely not going to be an easy job, but that’s what makes being involved in this project all the more rewarding!”
Chantelle Pierre, actress from Bradford, said: “I’m one of those people who thought cask ale was for the older generation – but I was so surprised when I tried Black Sheep! I really liked it! The fact they’re a northern brand makes it even better and from the moment I walked into the brewery I could tell how passionate everyone is about it. I loved the beer, loved the poem and loved working with the team. Dream job, in fact.”