Monday, 4 April 2016

CAMRA Revitalisation Project

As every member of CAMRA will now be aware, a 6 month consultation is taking place about the future direction of the campaign. I’m a member who helps out at the local festival and occasionally contacts my MP about issues flagged up by CAMRA. I suppose this makes me knee deep. I have had issues with the term real ale but it's generally a campaign I'm proud to be a part of.

When I go to places like Bermondsey, walk its infamous mile and experience the world through the prism of beer, it just feels a shame that CAMRA won’t allow itself this pleasure too and it’s because of the rigid definition of what is and isn’t real ale. This consultation with every one of its members is something I’m deciding to view with optimism. I have no inside knowledge on what it’s like to be a publican or a brewer. I’m always at the customer end.

When I blog about beer and pubs, my opinions change constantly in what is a constantly changing field. I would now disagree with some of the things I wrote just over a year ago. My optimism is naive but unapologetic. This is what I wrote on the survey. It’s 4 paragraphs and basic but I mean every word of it.

Revitalisation Project - Consultation survey 2016


6. If you would like to say why you have come to this view, please add
your comments here:

I have been fanatical about beer for about 8 years and am reaping the benefits of the campaigns hard fought by CAMRA mostly before I was of legal drinking age. CAMRA has had a huge part in encouraging the growth in breweries and getting that beer on hand pumps in my local pub. It has saved our unique method of cask dispense from extinction and returned it to the norm. 

I'm passionate about beer and one of the best situations to be in is when I volunteer at the (CAMRA) St Albans Beer & Cider festival and am confronted by somebody indifferent to beer. A woman who only drank red wine decided to try the stouts and porters (by memory, Tring Tea Kettle Stout and Red Squirrel London Porter). These were closer to the mark; there was a certain tannin quality that reminded her a bit of wine but it was the coffee dimension she wasn’t too fond of. We settled on Royston Red by Buntingford. She liked the red fruit bitterness it had and went off enjoying beer.

Later on a small group of people from Hungary were keen to try as many different styles as possible. The leader seemed like a connoisseur, even going for the Froach Heather Ale. The man’s father couldn’t speak English but his son translated, asking if there was anything like Guinness. After trying a few stouts, the father ended up being very pleased with Sonnet 43’s Bourbon Stout.

Imagine if there had been a line of key kegs at the festival too. A lager drinker could’ve been introduced to a Kolsch or a Pilsner. A white wine drinker could’ve tried a Saison, a red wine drinker a raspberry Brett, a brandy drinker a bourbon imperial stout. The beer range would’ve become kaleidoscopic and it would’ve been under CAMRA. I really hope that by recognising good beer in all formats, CAMRA can again become synonymous for beer based on its own merits of craftsmanship and taste.

Cheers Mike - thanks for everything you’ve done!