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Cyclops supports real ale sales

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted March 13, 2013
cyclops beer symbols help people navigate their way around real ale
Simple symbols: Cyclops in action. No idea where they got the name from, though. © Cyclops Beer

More people would drink real, or cask, ale if they had access to simple, clear beer tasting notes, which is precisely where Cyclops Beer steps in.

According to a press release we've just received, market research conducted last month by TNS found that "a large number of consumers are more likely to drink real ale if they can see in advance from simple tasting notes, such as those provided by Cyclops Beer, what the beer will taste like".

"The market research, demonstrating that simple descriptions at the bar showing look, smell and taste would encourage more pub goers to drink real ale, is very encouraging for British breweries," Cyclops states.

"It shows in particular that many younger pub goers would be tempted to try real ale if they could see at a glance what it would taste like."

"This is especially the case amongst those who have never tried cask before," it continues, adding that "the solution" for many breweries and pubs is to make more use of the Cyclops scheme.

Designed to "demystify beer and help consumers to find their way around the huge variety of tastes, flavours and beer styles", the Cyclops scheme "uses symbols and clear, non-technical wording" to readily show what a beer will be like once it's poured.

Since its launch in 2006, the scheme has grown to now cover a total of 1,475 different beers produced by 244 UK breweries, making it "the most widely used set of tasting notes in the beer industry."

As a result, its distinctive eye, nose and mouth symbols can be seen on pump clips, blackboards and beer mats the length and breadth of the country, accompanied by such simple and straightforward descriptions as 'treacle', 'coffee', 'zesty', 'biscuit', 'toffee' or 'liquorice' that "at a glance convey to potential drinkers some of the tastes which they can enjoy from a glass of British ale".

But is there really a need for such a scheme?

The TNS stats suggest there is.

"Amongst young drinkers (aged 18-24) who have never tried real ale, 40% would be encouraged by tasting notes on the bar to give it a try," Cyclops says.

"This willingness to try cask represents a huge opportunity for British brewers, who simply need to provide drinkers with some basic information about their beer in order to drive [a] trial of cask ale."

Indeed, the market research found that 24% of all drinkers who have never tried real ale would be encouraged to do so by the presence of tasting notes, as would 35% of all occasional or rare real ale drinkers.

Furthermore, nearly half (48%) of all drinkers aged 25-34 who "drink real ale now on an occasional basis would be encouraged to choose it more frequently if there were simple tasting notes explaining what a real ale looks, smells and tastes like".

Meanwhile, for all occasional female real ale drinkers, the corresponding figure stands at 40%, demonstrating "that women who have enjoyed real ale in the past are potentially very strong supporters of [the] cask ale category if only they could have more information at the bar to help make the selection easier".

"The market research shows a clear opportunity for breweries and pubs to sell more real ale," says Tony Jerome, the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) head of marketing and a Cyclops founder member.

"Choosing a beer can be difficult if you only have the name and ABV to go on, but Cyclops tasting notes show you what each real ale will look, smell and taste like, its beer style and how bitter or sweet it is."

"Cyclops is calling today for our tasting notes to be more widely adopted and used in pubs around the UK as the research shows that there is a demand for simple beer descriptions at the bar."

"Real ale is incredibly varied with a whole host of different styles and tastes."

"That's what makes it so exciting."

"But it can be difficult to choose one that's right for you if you don't know what it's going to taste like."

"That's why more breweries and pubs need to use Cyclops Beer."

Led by beer sommelier Annabel Smith, Cyclops will be testing drinkers' views of its tasting notes at the Cyclops Beer Taster to be staged between 18:00 and 19:00 this coming Friday (15/3/13) during the Society of Independent Brewers' (SIBA) BeerX conference and trade fair in Sheffield that apparently starts today and runs until Saturday.

A not-for-profit company, Cyclops "invests any surplus into extending understanding and usage of Cyclops Beer tasting notes amongst consumers and the trade".

Run by the Cyclops Beer Board, which consists of Everards Brewery, Cask Marque, SIBA and CAMRA, it also provides breweries with an independent assessment of their beer via laboratory analysis and tasting sessions.

It then produces tasting notes and artwork for the brewer's own use as well as on the Cyclops website.

We at the Rake & Herald think the Cyclops scheme is a damn good idea and strongly urge all in the trade to take if up today if they haven't done so already.

Or tomorrow if you're busy.

See also Cask overtakes keg, posted 19/10/12.

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