Bitter gets a sweet lift as ale sales rise

REAL ale is the only type of beer to report sales growth for the full year, boosted by a jump in women drinkers and an affluent consumer base.<br /><br />The one per cent rise in sales has outstripped the faltering lager sector, prompting experts to say that cask ale could be the lifeline for many pubs teetering on the brink. Latest figures show that 52 pubs are closing a week.<br /><br />Last year 400,000 new drinkers tasted cask ale for the first time, and the total number of women who drink ale has doubled. During the year the total number of ale drinkers rose to 8.5m.<br /><br />And pubs sold 2.3m more pints of cask beer in the first half of this year than in the same six months of the previous year, according to this year&rsquo;s Cask Ale Report.