Punch Taverns is trialling a scheme that allows licensees to stock cask ales of 2.8% ABV and below, which qualify for a 50% reduction in beer duty.
Licensees that receive their beers from depots in Croydon, south London and Tingley, near Leeds are the first to be targeted.
The Croydon depot is offering Green King's Tolly English Ale, while the Tingley depot will be trialling Caledonian's 2.8%. A third ale, Adnams' Sole Star, will be available via all depots under Punch's Finest Cask rotational beer programme, but only the 1,000 pubs signed up to Finest Cask will be eligible.
Sole Star and 2.8% will be supplied in firkins (9 gallons). Tolly English Ale will come in pins (4.5 gallons).
The beers were chosen by staff during a tasting session at Punch's Burton-on-Trent head office followed by presentations by the breweries on the potential for the 2.8% ale category, prospective customers, and the level of support they would give to promote their brand.
Stephen Martin, Punch's category manager - drinks, said: "At present, the 2.8% ale category is an unknown quantity. Linking a pint with a meal for a set price is a mechanic for promoting cask ale while also helping the pub protect its margins."
The trial will be re-appraised after three months and, if successful, the scheme will be rolled out to all of Punch's distribution depots.
By Neil Gerrard
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