Solution to training up the UK pub trade found in Gloucestershire

When Cask Marque faced the challenge of how to help the UK pub trade deliver high standards of beer and service across the industry, it found the answer in Gloucestershire.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
What started out as a challenge - how to deliver training across the pub industry - turned into a triumph, thanks to Nimble Elearning, and a whole new income stream for Cask Marque too.

Being responsible for 20,000 annual pub visits might sound like a dream job, but when the visit is all about ensuring the quality of the beer and service UK-wide the challenge suddenly looks considerably more daunting.

Formed in 1998 to address the then void in beer quality control, Cask Marque came to realise there was an opportunity to help the multi-million pound sector remain sustainable in other ways too – with the challenge of finding a way to help it instill best practice being the biggest potential win.

It already had 50 qualified assessors in place visiting pubs to test beer quality, and gave the not inconsiderable challenge of how to deliver the training to Annabel Smith, who runs the consultancy Beerbelle. She found the answer to the quest in Gloucestershire at online training experts Nimble Elearning.

Smith took the Stonehouse-based business on its promise, that its intuitive editing tool could be used by anyone from any sector for any course, and set to work. What she created so impressed Nimble, it gave Cask Marque a special award.

And for Smith's bosses there was another bonus, the course has become a whole new line of business for the not-for-profit organisation which is now able to offer affordable, accessible, recognised, practical training for all across the sector in the form of its Beer Professional course.

Cask Marque sells the course to breweries and pub companies UK-wide and predicts 50,000 will be using it by the end of year one.

Operations manager Helen Sykes said: 'We were very proud to be nominated and go on to win course of the year for our Beer Professional course.

'Investment in bar staff training and retention is critical. Professionally-trained bar staff, who deliver an exceptional guest experience, generate repeat purchases, increase footfall, and build a business’s reputation.

'Beer Pro is a fantastic and comprehensive training tool supported by all the national brewers. It’s ideal for new starters as well as a great refresher for experienced team members.

'It has been a huge success with thousands of trained beer professionals in its first year. So successful, that we have just produced Beer Pro Two which is the next level for bar staff on their learning journey.'

The course, made up of five modules lasting five minutes, is a mix of video, interactions and assessment exercises designed to keep learners engaged and can be completed on mobile or desktop devices in one go or in bite-sized chunks. It has been praised for its flexibility which is essential for a busy sector where shift-work is par for the course.

And as the sector continues to look for fortification as it re-shapes post Covid-19 pandemic and weathers the current cost of living crisis, affordable training that enhances the value of staff and service within the sector is proving very timely.

Essex-based Cask Marque sees its course being used in the future as the equivalent to taking your theory test before your practical driving assessment and has designs on using Nimble to develop a course to train its beer inspectors; to do internal sales training; cellar management and to help roll out any other training, as and when required. 

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