City centre cask ale trail is £16m Holy Grail

Lancaster landlords
Lancaster landlords

Cask ale related trade is worth around £16m in revenue to Lancaster city centre businesses.

In terms of volume growth, it is outperforming the on-trade beer market by 4.5 per cent, and the UK now drinks 634 million pints of cask ale every year.

In Lancaster, there are 29 pubs selling cask ale within half a mile of Market Square, and there has been a huge increase in the number of pumps dispensing it over the last decade.

Tim Tomlinson has been a publican in Lancaster for ten years, and knows as well as anyone how important cask ale is not only to his business, but to the identity of Lancaster as a whole.

To celebrate the city’s rich cask ale offering, Tim and other landlords have organised a five day pub festival, which aims to crown Lancaster as the “northern city of ale”.

Tim, who runs the White Cross and Merchants pubs in the city, said: “Cask ale is the only growth area in the drinks trade over the last decade, and in Lancaster city centre it’s worth around £16m every year.

“There are a huge number of real ale pubs in the city, for its size, and 29 within half a mile of Market Square. Lots of groups come through for a drink. For many, this is the place to come to and we get frequent visitors from Barrow, Preston, Carlisle, Manchester, Bolton, Blackburn and Keighley to name a few.

“But we’ve never really pushed it properly before, and I think we can sell ourselves a lot better.

“Lancaster is one of the best places to come to in the north for cask ale. Ten years ago there would have been between 15-20 cask ale pumps in Lancaster, but now we’re looking at 177 pumps within a half mile radius of the city centre.

Tim said the pub festival, scheduled to take place between November 12-16, was playing to the city’s strengths.

“We’re blessed in Lancaster with the quality and variety that we have.

“Obviously it’s about business for the individual, but it’s about business for the city as a whole as well.

“We have the history, major sights, shopping, music, and some great and fantastic pubs.

“When you bring all that together it benefits everyone. It’s the symbiotic element to it.

“Events like this show Lancaster is working as a unit.”

Tim said the festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors to explore the city’s hidden gems and award winning ale houses and to celebrate the vibrant pub and ale culture with which Lancaster is blessed.

A fold out map and phone app will provide five ale trails to follow, as well as a full pub directory, live map, ale listing and music and events diary.

A prize draw offers a firkin (72 pints) of beer by visiting eight pubs over two days with other prizes also available.

Tim added: “There’s a strong sense of identity and belonging.

“What we’re finding as landlords is that a little bit of joined up effort is creating a big impact.”

• Cask ale is increasing its rate of sale

– more pubs are stocking more cask

ales, and selling more as a result.

. Almost 60% of total ontrade

ale is now cask, with keg share

declining sharply.

• Three new breweries open every

week in the UK. There are now over

1,472 breweries in Britain and the vast

majority of these mainly brew cask ale.

Lancaster PubFest is a 5 day celebration of the City’s vibrant and historic pub and cask ale heritage.

Wed 12th Nov to Sun 16th Nov

19 Cask Ale Pubs , over 170 Ales

Lancaster : Northern City of Ale

Lancaster offers an unrivalled choice for cask ale fans. The festival is PubFest Events

Live music will be performed at over 20 venues throughout the PubFest – see the full listing on the web site and app

With the City’s abundance of historic sights including the Castle, Ashton Memorial, the beautiful canal and quay side, plus plenty of shopping, visitors can make a great day of it and enjoy some fine ales along the way.

Lancaster’s location on national train and bus routes together with all the pubs being a short stroll from Market Square means there is no reason to come by car.

For further information please call Tim Tomlinson on

0795 606 8161 or on email on