Both licensees commented that more women and young people were choosing real ales, especially as there was more variety nowadays. What interested me most was that both licensees independently stated that they had stopped stocking Cains beers because of a serious decline in quality, with even casks bursting open and spraying their contents all over the cellar. My own impression as a drinker was that quality went seriously downhill after the reverse takeover by Cain's of Honeycombe Leisure went pear-shaped and the business went into administration, hastened by an unpaid tax bill.
I particularly used to like Cain's FA, Triple Hop and Sundowner beers: I haven't see the last two for a while, but I did try the FA a few months ago in the Guest House in Southport, and it was still disappointing. A year or two ago I tried a new beer, Liver Bird, in Cain's Brewery Tap, but wasn't impressed at all. You don't see Cain's beers around as often as you used to; I haven't seen it in the Cain's pub on Renshaw Street, the Dispensary, for ages. Apparently when Cain's was in turmoil, they got permission to buy their beer from anywhere just to keep the pub open, and neither the licensee or the customers particularly want Cain's back, leading to the bizarre situation that a Cain's pub that has won CAMRA Liverpool's Pub of the Year award in Liverpool doesn't actually sell Cain's.
I know that Cain's has recruited a brewer from Brain's of Cardiff. I must give their beers another go to see whether this has led to any improvement, but even if it has, the problem for Cain's is that a bad reputation is very hard to shake off. It's sad that the company that inhabits the former home of the legendary Higson's beers has come to this sorry state. I expect that the production of own-brand tinned beers for supermarkets, which has always constituted a large proportion of Cain's production, is what keeps the company afloat.