The report says real ale is the only type of beer to have seen sales rise
Real ale is the only type of beer now seeing its sales grow in UK pubs, helped by an increasing number of women enjoying the drink, a study has said.
While all other beer types, such as lager and keg bitters, saw their sales fall in the the first half of 2009, sales of real ale grew 1%, it said.
The independent study, which is backed by a host of brewers, said the number of women drinking real ale has doubled.
Real ale is a natural beer that does not require any added carbon dioxide.
Pete Brown, the author of the study, said real ale or cask beer's share of the pub beer market now stood at 13.5%, up from 11% in 2007.
Most importantly, with pub closures now at an all-time high of 52 a week due to falling revenues, he said the growing popularity of real ale could offer "a lifeline" to pubs threatened with closure.
He said this was because real ale fans were typically more affluent than those of lager and other beer styles, and as a result they could afford to visit a pub more often - 40% of them go once a week, compared with just 23% of non-cask ale drinkers.
"Higher spending customers who drink more beer, go to pubs more often, and spend more while they're there, make cask beer a vital asset for struggling pubs," said Mr Brown.
Unlike lager or processed keg bitters, real ale creates its own natural fizz from the second fermentation that takes place in the barrel in the pub cellar.
It is available in a host of styles, from bitters to milds, strong ales to stouts, and the newer range of golden beers. It is typically meant to be served at a cool rather than cold temperature.