Cask Marque: The Mark of Quality Cask Ales

Wherever you travel, cask ales differ in quality. Going into a public house can mean taking a chance with your taste buds. It would be nice if you could have a small sample before parting with hard earned money - a sort of "try before You Buy". This would alleviate the often embarrassing situation of asking for a refund. Well now you can with CASK MARQUE, and this principle is now seen in most cask ale premises around the country, even extending to craft/keg products.

All is explained at the above link.


Founded by the brewing industry, there are now over 2100 premises as part of the Cask Marque real ale quality scheme, with 16 inspectors all of whom are qualified brewers.

B10 Seedbed Centre
Wyncolls Road
Severalls Business Park
Colchester, Essex

Tel : 01206 752212


Myself with Martin Groundwater, Paul Nunny and Alastair Caldwell behind the bar of the Spinning Mill, Ballymena for the award ceremony.

Paul Nunny (Cask Marque), Myself with Alastair Caldwell & Martin Groundwater (JD Wethrspoons).

I made a personal representation to Cask Marque about extending their award scheme to Northern Ireland. I spoke to Paul Nunny and he required an ex-brewer as an official CM assessor. Hard to find in a land of few breweries. However, I found Raymond Beaton, who once worked at the Bass Glen Road plant and who was willing to take the task onboard. During his training period Wetherspoons, one of the members of Cask Marque who are dedicated to quality, heard that Northern Ireland would soon be having its own assessor. They contacted Paul Nunny to arrange assessment of all their outlets in the province. At that time one bar (Lisburn) did not have the ale available and could not be included in the program. Wetherspoons thus failed the clean sweep, but Martin Groundwater and Phil Annett from the company asked for Lisburn to be assessed again as the ale was back on tap again, so it became included.

The award took place at The Spinning Mill, Ballymena, and Paul came over specially to present the company with their certificates.

Interest in the scheme has been shown from other parties and I have been discussing the possibility of more outlets achieving certification but, sadly, nobody appears to be interested.

All in all, a great day for cask ales and ale quality in the province.

Cask Marque is asking for customer feedback - which means YOU. Their web site is at

You can e-mail them at


A final quote from John Cryne, Past Chairman of CAMRA:

"CAMRA sees quality as a key issue affecting cask beer and thoroughly welcomes the Cask Marque initiative as a method of positively tackling the quality issue."

Search for recommended pubs, restaurants and places to visit:
Select type of attraction:
Select County: