I was thinking of doing a complete parody of the Monty Python sketch. Replacing The Romans with CAMRA and having a fictitious Peoples Beer Front questioning what CAMRA has actually done for British beer. I don't think I could carry it off, so I'll just leave the reader with the concept.
It's been an interesting few days. Alongside finding myself in a Hairy Bikers kitchen on Saturday, there seemed to be some need for shuttle diplomacy in the beer blogging world, which is not quite over yet. Hopefully this might round things off. I like to remain friends with everybody and what would be even better would be for everybody else to be friends with each other too. Perhaps a big global blogging group hug might be asking too much, but I can hope.
After all, the Romans, according to Monty Python, who we all know have history correctly documented, did bring peace to Judea. Besides, I'm going to the GBBF next week and I might bump into people in real life. For sure, I'm looking forward to the beers on the BSF bar, it sounds too exciting. I'd hope to be able to have a chat with the staff without the spectre of an "entertainingly demented" Sausage, who despite being technically correct and not sounding at all demented on the telephone, has given some grief to a well known blogger recently. OK guys, I know some of you found it hilarious, but some didn't get the joke - OK?
There are issues I have with CAMRA, it's too late for me to try and hide that one. I am for instance concerned that there might be too much pallyness between CAMRA and the regional breweries. This background came out subliminally in my previous post about regionals, in a dumb side dig at CAMRA that was not really relevant to the post. Tandleman commented as much and that was a good call.
The point of this post though, is to highlight the things that I think CAMRA really do that are good. After all, there has to be some good in everything. Hopefully, there might be some bridges built as a result.
They saved cask ale. I can already hear my CAMRA sceptic friends screaming at their computer screens. It is true that cask ale might just have found a renaissance via other routes without CAMRA. After all, quality baked bread has not died out despite the onslaught of Sunblest. But still, the cask ale scene would be quite different without CAMRA. Is that good or bad? You choose.
The Good Beer Guide. Now come on sceptic people, despite the occasional quirky choices, it's a generally good guide to where the best beer driven pubs are if you travel to a strange part of the country. It's better than the pay-for-entry guides out there when it comes to impartiality. We always use it.
Pub and Brewery Awards. Restaurants can get rosettes or Michelin Stars or be listed by Egon Ronay. Pubs would have no real recognition without the CAMRA schemes. For me, I cannot overstate how much of a boost it is, when you are down, to be told you've just got in the GBG or got pub of the season or some other CAMRA award. Tandleman reminded us of this only today.
Beer Festivals. It's true that they might not always be in the greatest of venues. But then what venue can you get hundreds of different beers into and it not be like a big drafty hall? They are a chance to try beers that are rarely found in pubs and a chance for breweries to get their name out there.
Resurgence of Micro Brewing. Although I think that the resurgence of demand for artisan products by the general public would have generated expansion of this sector, there is no doubt that the small brewery discount of beer duty has helped, and this is largely due to CAMRA.
Brought peace to the beer world. OK, maybe not, but it's a concept.
Now, I just hope I haven't dug myself an even bigger hole.