Monday 27 July 2009

What HAVE CAMRA ever done for US?

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.


Curmudgeon said...

CAMRA provides a social network for people interested in pubs and beer.

Whorst said...

"CAMRA provides a social network for people interested in pubs and beer."

This is true, but I think they should invest in a CAMRA School of The Brewing Arts.

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

CAMRA has done little directly for us across the water but indirectly we have seen a massive range of new and exciting UK beers find their way over to us.
Now if only CAMRA would make their way over here and sort out our Macro brew dominated pubs.

Unknown said...

Curmudgeon, that is a very good point. Sadly, there are people who are passionate about beer who feel alienated by CAMRA due to a few sticking points. Therefore there is an increasing them and us situation.

Beer blogs reflect this and despite what some people believe I think the beer blogosphere does echo the real world. I like to be part of both them and us, after all, it's all just perspective, science apart.

It's time for my all time fav quote:

"Je ne suis pas d'accord avec un mot de ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai jusqu'à la mort pour votre droit de le dire." - Voltaire

Unknown said...


I am hoping to get myself on a brewing course in the next 6 months. Hopefully then I can apply even more hard facts to the unfortunate misinformation and urban myth that surrounds our very worthy cask ale scene.

There is a course in Sunderland and as that is where Ann originates, it can't be that bad. In any case, Sunderland seem to have the only decent football team in the North East currently.

Unknown said...

Saruman, ah, Ireland yes? Well, I think there might be some parallels to explore. Ireland has a similar culture to the UK, I think, although I've never been there. Perhaps similar laws regarding alcohol retail, and I have less knowledge of that. No CAMRA and no significant amount of real ale?

Comments anybody?

Tandleman said...

I keep saying this but no-one seems to take it up. CAMRA may have policies, but the rest and almost all local stuff is down to individual branches and members. The problem with saying "the trouble with CAMRA" is the same as saying "the trouble with publicans is". It can be a bit of a blind alley.

At the macro end it is clear that there is no industry consensus and CAMRA has to pick a way through that in the interests of the consumer. At the micro end, it really doesn't have to affect you hugely unless you want it to. Of course some bloggers like to stoke the flames, but a lot of them are home drinkers. They rarely discuss cask. Not a criticism, a comment.

As for science, brewing is an art too. Maybe cask conditioning is the art of brewing while keg is the science? Just a little thought, not meant to be taken entirely seriously.

Unknown said...

'saying "the trouble with CAMRA" is the same as saying "the trouble with publicans is"'.

Good point.

Cooking Lager said...

To decide whether CAMRA is a success, you have to define what its purpose both was and is. Formed as a response to 70’s keg bitter, most pubs now have cask bitter, a success surely? Real ale is a thriving niche market available to anyone that wants it, if you like that sort of thing. I would question the effectiveness and purpose of CAMRA today. Like the commission for racial equality, its purpose really ought to be to negate the need for its own existence. CAMRA is successful when it can say “job done, time to give up and quit”, however it appears to be more these days about finding a reason to exist. As Curmudgeon said, offering a beer club to beer enthusiasts.

Barry M said...

Regarding Ireland: cask effectively disappeared from Ireland in the 60s, so there was nothing left for a CAMRAesque group to rescue. CAMRA is not interested in Ireland and, personally, I'm perfectly happy with that. After all, we do have ICB which is a loose group of people interested in promoting Irish Craft beers regardless of the dispense method. To my mind that is much more important (increasing choice and quality) and is something that is badly needed in Ireland considering the steep climb for our native micro breweries.

Jeff Pickthall said...

I with Cooking Lager on this one.

What I've never been able to find out is what CAMRA aims to achieve. Why is it not writ-large on its website? What concrete goals does it have? Campaigns need goals.

Is it just an ongoing quest to wrap the regionals in cotton wool? It often looks that way.

Is it an increase in market penetration for cask ale? If so, how much? I suspect that for a hardcore in would be 100% in which case they're in cloud cuckoo land.

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

As Barry said, we at ICB I suppose do our part to promote decent beer in Ireland.
Maybe some day we will be the equivalent of CAMRA but without the negativity that goes with it. Would ICB be as much fun if it was officially recognised I wonder?

The good news is that Cask ale is making a comeback in Ireland, Dublin in particular with the Porterhouse having a regular cask ale and more recently the Bull and Castle having Cask Irish ale from some of the Irish micro breweries.

I am not sure about the Franciscan well in Cork, I did not see any Cask ale the last time I was there.

Barry M said...

Saruman, considering the media exposure, ICB is certainly getting recognition, and we are getting more and more media bodies contacting us behind the scenes for the likes of today's interview about Tokyo on Kerry radio. Yeah! We've hit the big time! :D

What we have avoided so far is a more centralised approach to organisation (Sean, TBN and I simply facilitate/coordinate) and official lobbying, preferring a more relaxed viral approach :)

I don't get too hung up on availability of cask beer in Ireland, but perhaps that's just me. I'm happy to have and promote choice and quality beers from our micros, regardless of the dispense method. Still, it's nice to have cask available if it actually improves the beer (which it doesn't in all cases, Hooker being one example to paraphrase TheBeerNut).

Of course, now that I no longer live in Ireland, I should look for more non-German beer choice in Germany :P

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

I like the choice of Cask beer, more to compare to other formats. Curim from the bottle is not very good but from the Cask it is pretty good indeed. O'Haras on the other hand is fantastic in the bottle but not good at all from the cask. Cask is not too important but it is nice to have the choice.

I missed the interview, perhaps Sean can get a copy from the radio station.

Now if we can just get ICB to be like Astronomy Ireland and seen by the media as the people to contact about anything to do with beer :D
We would of course be less evil.

Tandleman said...

CAMRA's goals from "About Us" on the website:

1. Protect and improve consumer rights

2. Promote quality, choice and value for money

3. Support the public house as a focus of community life

4. Campaign for greater appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture

5. Seek improvements in all licensed premises and throughout the brewing industry

Seems CAMRA may have moved on more than some care to recognise. Doesn't seem too dogmatic to me either. Though probably irrelevant if you drink at home mainly.

Sat In A Pub said...


"most pubs now have cask bitter, a success surely? Real ale is a thriving niche market available to anyone that wants it."

Well, if most pubs did have real ale, it wouldn't be a niche market. You can say an increasing number have it, yes, but the majority still don't. So if that alone was the reason for Camra's existence, then they couldn't close shop yet.

However, as Tandleman has pointed out, Camra has several aims. These seem pretty clear to me so I'm puzzled as to what people don't understand about them.

Alistair Reece said...


When you say O'Hara's isn't that great of the cask I am assuming you have actually tried it? When I met up with Beer Nut and Adeptus at the Bull and Castle, I tried it on keg and then from the bottle, and the bottle is fabulous, and even the keg was a step up from Guinness.

I may be mistaken but I seem to remember that Beer Nut mentioned that from the cask it was better still, or was that the Clotworthy Dobbin?

Cooking Lager said...

90% of global beer sales are lager, 80% of British beer sales are lager. Just 'cos it’s in the pub, doesn't mean people are necking it. All ale, whether cask or keg is niche. Check out

As for CAMRA's aims, I agree with the fair pint one and I'm surprised the only place I get the measure I paid for is in the Supermarket.

If you say most bitter in pubs is keg, fair enough, but there is enough cask out there for people that want it.

As for Tandy’s aims 1 & 2, clearly bollocks, yeh for price fixing anyone? and on point 3 they have failed. The off will overtake on the trade in 2010. Point 4 is bollocks; they promote interesting acquired tastes and dismiss mainstream national cask brands as piss. Point 5 is clearly at odds with a desire to keep traditional dumpy pubs in favour of nice modern establishments.

Lets face it, it's a club for odd balls. Nothing wrong with that, good luck to them. But no one should be bothered listening to them.

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

Yes I have had both Druids brew and normal O'Haras from the cask. The Druids brew (first time found in Dublin) was very nice indeed but the O'haras I had last week was pretty weak and sour. It might have just been a bad batch, that is very possible given the nature of casks. I know the B&C have had a few bad casks.
Sorry for going pretty much off the topic of CAMRA dave.

The Beer Nut said...

they promote interesting acquired tastes and dismiss mainstream national cask brands as piss
What? That's not been my observation at all. CAMRA seem very happily in bed with macrokeggeries, bottlers of unreal ale and lager-brewers like Wells & Young, Shepherd Neame and Marstons just 'cos they happen to roll out the odd cask. The macrobrewers aren't being invited to take half the floorspace of the GBBF because the hosts think their beer is piss.

For the record (since my name has been taken in vain something shocking in this thread): O'Hara's Stout on cask, when done well, is better than either keg or bottle. The Bull & Castle has just been serving it too warm of late. Clotworthy Dobbin is best on keg (loads of Cascade flavour), great bottled, but not much cop on cask. And Galway Hooker, a beer not too far from lager really, is great from the keg but was thin and flat any time I had it from the cask.

Tandleman said...

"As for Tandy’s aims". Not my aims me old piss drinker.

Whorst said...

Calm yourself Pete. This is the week of your party. I'm now promoting peace, love and brewing science. Cooking Lager brings a different insight as many of us do. To refer to him as a "piss drinker" would be like you calling you a professor in warm vinegar. Lets be nice so we all can shine.

Cooking Lager said...

Oh, come on Nut. Your average CAMRA geek isn’t interested in a wider consumption of ale. They enjoy the fact that they are in an exclusive club, of pongy ale knocked up in sheds. When a beer is knocked up in a shed, it’s great. When a regional stays in its region, it’s okay. Anything national that might appeal to a mainstream drinker fancying a change is piss. Anything that dares advertise is double piss. And Tandy, if you’re in the tankard club, then there aims are yours. I’m not anti-CAMRA. I like ‘em. I’d like to know what’s in the plastic bags they carry everywhere, out of personal curiosity, but I like eccentrics. It adds to the colour and gaiety of the nation. If I were the PM, I just wouldn’t listen to them nor take them as anything like representative of the drinking classes. I would just take them as the amusing odd balls they are. I would ban people from pubs and bars that carry notebooks and jot in them, though. There is no excuse for that.

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

Ban people with notebooks? I guess I should be banned then as I am one of those people. I take a photo too. Of course it is only if I am reviewing a beer I have not had before of course. I take notes for my blog.
The other reason is if I want to review the actual pub itself.
There is nothing wrong with note taking as long as it is not taken too seriously.

Oh and Dave, just out of curiosity. Do you have any cask ale or will you have any while I am there in August (20th)?

The Beer Nut said...

I don't get the term "average CAMRA geek". CAMRA is not for geeks; geeks just happen to benefit from it. Maybe a Venn diagram would help.

CAMRA not only has no problem at all with beers that advertise, it actually provides lots of space for them to do it.

Did you see the supplement in the Independent at the weekend? Mr Protz singing the praises of Greene King IPA?

Honestly, I don't see where you're getting the shed-good-factory-bad thing from. Care to tell us?

Cooking Lager said...

Oh, Nutty, CAMRA is so for geeks. Nothing wrong with geeks. Geeks are great. I think you should post a venn diagram. It would help. As for Protzy, he'd sing the praises of anything if there was a quid in it. When I last saw him he was at a train station swigging spesh.

The Beer Nut said...

I think I've figured it out: you don't know what a geek is.

Would I be right in thinking that the fat farty bloke with the plastic bag (it's for pasties, btw, always pasties) and the thin pale hipster looking for an oak-aged loganberry-infused imperial stout are both geeks? 'Cos only one is.

Cooking Lager said...

Sorry Nutster, both are geeks. If you want to think you are a cool geek, and better than the fat bearded lot with plastic bags, that’s fine. I'll accept that, but it's only a matter of time before the calories do their work. It isn't a distinct difference between the two; it’s a direction of travel. Coors Light. 88 cals a bottle. In my fridge if you want one. Oh and don’t give in to the lure of Greggs. I like you, you can be saved.

The Beer Nut said...

Thought so. OK, that explains it. I'll just calibrate my definition of "geek" when talking to you.

And anyone who's met me will tell you that neither "thin" nor "hipster" apply.

It's roughly a 200km swim to my nearest branch of Gregg's. How many sausage rolls would I have to eat on arrival to compensate for the calories burned on the way?

Tandleman said...

Sausage. I was using Beer Nut's term ironically. To each his own. I like the guy and there is a great deal of truth in what he says, but of course any truth taken out of context, can appear bizarre.

I did like this too "it's only a matter of time before the calories do their work. It isn't a distinct difference between the two; it’s a direction of travel."

Too true. That's why I am a bit contemptuous of some who have a pop at fat this or that. At the age most people who write such things are, those who are being written about were just like them. Me included.

Beer and time will tell, lager or bitter.

Curmudgeon said...

It's not true to say "most pubs have cask bitter" - vast swathes of the pub stock, admittedly mainly either downmarket or youth-oriented, don't have it. I would guess across the whole of Great Britain barely 50% of pubs have it.

There is certainly much less cask beer sold now than in 1973 when CAMRA was founded, and probably fewer pubs in absolute numbers stocking it.

So it can't be simplistically said that "CAMRA's work is done".

And if ultimately it becomes primarily a beer drinkers' club, is there anything intrinsically wrong with that?

Unknown said...

Oh come on guys, I go out for the day and you all start squabbling. What ever happened to the big beer bloggers hug? Or is that beer bloggers big hug - sorry, possibly Freudian slip there.

I do hope you are all having a big laugh at this and really just pulling each others legs......

Unknown said...


Yup, when we're open we've got cask ale. Normally at least 4 handpulls all Cumbrian Microbrewed - normally 2 of mine on tap.

Gotcha - 2 doubles right?

Unknown said...

Curmudgeon, just interested, when you say much less cask ale is sold now than was in 1973 do you mean total volume or as a proportion of the overall beer sales?

I didn't drink in 1973, well the odd sip from my fathers glass maybe, but since I did start in the early 80's cask seems to have gone up as a proportion of the total beer consumption. That's just my impression. Of course I take much more notice of where it's available now. Choice is significantly improved recently I think.

Curmudgeon said...

The total on-trade beer volume has shrunk from 37 million bulk barrels in 1977 to less than 17 million today. Within that, the proportion of lager has gone up from about 10% in the early 1970s, to over 50% now. Although cask beer may have increased as a proportion of total draught beer sold, I'm sure the absolute volume is much less.

Don't forget that in the early 1970s, while there may have been little real ale in the South-East, there were plenty of brewers such as Wolves & Dudley, Holts and Home with tied estates in industrial areas, who sold little but cask, and where beer volumes were phenomenal compared with nowadays.

And well over half of Greenalls' 1500-plus tied estate sold cask.

In the late 1990s with the rise of smooth beers there was a marked trend of taking cask out of many of the more marginal and downmarket pubs. For example, in the mid-80s, very many pubs in Liverpool sold either cask Higsons or Tetleys, but now you'd be hard pressed to find much cask at all outside the city centre.

Unknown said...

Curmudgeon, I think the percentage of the total cask is greater by quite a lot today, but I'd need hard figures to back that up, which I admit I have not got. Total beer sales have dropped significantly since the 1970's, that I know. I think cask has faired very well indeed, whatever the reason.

Is CAMRA's work done? I don't know, many seem to think so and the "looking for a reason to exist" theme does ring true to me. But I also know there are things that are good, and I want them to remain. Perhaps warts and all is the only way, I don't know.

What really interests me though is that there seems to be an increase of people who are CAMRA sceptic. The degree of scepticism varies between that of my own, which I hope is on side, but still quite sceptic, through to out right hatred almost to the point of the very mention of the organisation bringing on a tirade of complaint.

I really, really do think we need to think about that.

To the nice Irish people - please don't apologise for the digression. It was fun.

Paul Garrard said...

CAMRA's work will never be done as there will always be a threat from one quarter or another.

The good that CAMRA have done over the years can be summed up in one word CHOICE. There are more real ales available today than you can shake a stick at. That has got to be good!

Sat In A Pub said...


I haven't got the figures at hand right now, but yes, although volumes are down, cask ale was at a low point in the 70s'. Since then it has actually increased its share quite significantly so that it's a bigger fish in a smaller pond!

Curmudgeon said...

It's increased its share of the draught ale market, but not of the overall draught beer market. Remember that something like 60-65% of all draught beer sales are now lager.

As a rough figure I would suggest absolute cask barrelage is less than half of what it was in the early 70s.

Jeff Pickthall said...

@Paul Garrard

"The good that CAMRA have done over the years can be summed up in one word CHOICE."

I've always got the impression that a lot of CAMRA types would have been quite happy to stick with the regionals and stick with wrapping them in cotton wool. I don't see that CAMRA has done a great deal about market access for the micros. Relentless banging on about "guest beer right" or whatever has achieved bugger all. (And what if a landlord chooses Fosters as his guest beer? Are CAMRA actually saying "a tied pub should have a right to a guest beer as long as it's a beer we approve of i.e. cask ale"?)

Sat In A Pub said...

"Are CAMRA actually saying "a tied pub should have a right to a guest beer as long as it's a beer we approve of i.e. cask ale"?"

Doh, yes. And the problem is...? What do their initials stand for?

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

Yes Dave, two Doubles for two nights.

Look what you started on the whole CAMRA thing though, it was almost pistols at 20 paces for a while :D

Unknown said...

Saruman, yes it was looking like war might break out, but I think everybody is back to being friends again now. Well.... nearly.

See you on the 20th. I'd better make sure I have something good on.

Jeff Pickthall said...

@ Tyson

I kind of makes a mockery of CAMRA's claim to be a "consumer group". It isn't. It's a special interest group, always has been. I have no problem with that, I just wish they'd say it rather than keeping on pursuing this "consumer group" charade.

Sat In A Pub said...


I agree that CAMRA are a special interest group, but then aren't all "consumer" groups from the AA onwards? By that definition there's probably only WHICH that can lay claim to the title.

I think the point is that a lot of CAMRA's aims and campaigns DO (or would do) benefit the consumer at large. Lower beer taxation, for example, wouldn't just benefit its memebers or even just real ale drinkers but drinkers everywhere. I can't see too many people complaining about that.

And they lobbied hard on behalf of all day opening-something every memeber of the public could appreciate. So it's a bit churlish to deny them credit for trying to improve the consumer's lot. That's not to say they always get it right, of course.

Curmudgeon said...

OK, these figures are to some extent plucked out of the air, but I think they're roughly correct. In 1973 (say), there were 37 million bulk barrels of beer sold in the on-trade. Of those, 15% was lager, and 85% ale. 25% of the ale was cask, making 7.9 million bulk barrels of cask.

In 2008 there were 16 million bulk barrels of beer sold in the on-trade. Of those, 65% was lager, and 35% ale. 45% of the ale was cask, making 2.5 million bulk barrels of cask.

If anything, I think the proportion of lager was lower in 1973 and higher in 2008.

And, Dave, you only need to go on a pub crawl of Barrow, Whitehaven or Workington to realise just how high a proportion of pubs don't sell cask at all. I would be surprised actually if cask made up more than a third of ale on-trade sales of ale in Great Britain.

Unknown said...

1973 - 25% of the ale was cask
2008 - 45% of the ale was cask

Good, no?

Anyway, you have a point about Barrow, Whitehaven and Workington. But a pub crawl of Eskdale, that's another matter. Or Cockermouth, home of Jennings, now there's a beer town, which has much more to offer than just Jennings.

Cooking Lager said...

In that case Curmudgy, an effective campaign to increase the number that drink a pint of pong would be "make pongy cask ale sexy"

This needs national brands with the recognition and trust they engender and advertising.

If its advertised, even I'd drink it. Might even start to like it.

CAMRA campaign against national brands with LocAle (got that off the site), and when did you last see an ale advertise to a younger drinker? Boddies, in the 90's

It's no suprise the kids are on the cooking lager. It's where it's at.

As a club for odd balls, I think CAMRA is great. I might join up, soon as I get a pastie in a placky bag. As a campaign, it might as well give up.

The Beer Nut said...

when did you last see an ale advertise to a younger drinker?
Last time I looked at a Wychwood ad.

Unknown said...

"Last time I looked at a Wychwood ad"

Comments Mr Pickthall?

Cooking Lager said...

I had to google Wychwood. Thats appealing to the kids? A nasty goblin telling me I'm scared of pongy beer? Looks like the type of stuff that the social inadequates that play dungeons and dragons would drink.

Unknown said...

Jeff is obviously asleep, or busy watching daytime T.V.

This is what Jeff thinks.

Jeff Pickthall said...

Jeff is not asleep, he is busy having his dinner (as we correctly say in the North).

Yes , Wychwood branding , agggh, help, make it stop, I'll give you the top-secret invasion plans, please anything but Wychwood branding!

No, seriously, the implied suggestion that Wychwood branding is aimed at young people per se, is flawed. I see it as appealing to the kind of person (non age-specific) who usually wears black, has a pony tail, programs computers and has a history of D&D. Also they probably talk a little too loud in the pub and animate their chatter with vocalised sound effects of explosions, sci-fi weapons, mythical beasts etc. They tend to listen to German industrial "music". I have known many of these people and have a soft spot for them. They tend to be frequent pub-goers and cask ale drinkers.

Jeff Pickthall said...

...and, I forgot to say, I believe it lets the side down. It contributes to the poor brand image of the whole sector – and that's what really annoys me about it.

BTW I loved D&D when I was a teenager. Don't tell anyone.

Cooking Lager said...

At the risk of being accused of trolling and it’s not my intention. My intention is only ever a bit of gentle fun. Boddies creamflow was the last ale marketed in an appealing fashion to younger drinkers, the ads with the bird now on daytime telly. If you can accept for one minute that keg beer is neither the enemy nor evil, in the 90’s boddies encouraged a fair number of younger drinkers to drink ale rather than a lager. Its lighter colour, easy going (okay then bland) flavour and the consistency of keg saw friends try a pint of ale and like it. Those drinkers, I would say, are now more inclined to try cask ales, with the myriad of exciting flavours and pong they possess. A keg ale drinker would be move inclined to drink one of Dave’s pongy tinctures than a cooking lager drinker. These days John Smiths is the national ale brand, and marketed exclusively at middle aged men. Guinness is one brand, that remains appealing to all ages, with innovating advertising, however Guinness drinkers like and expect Guinness, not the beer style.

Jeff Pickthall said...


I've just looked at CAMRA's website. It does indeed state:

1. Protect and improve consumer rights

2. Promote quality, choice and value for money

3. Support the public house as a focus of community life

4. Campaign for greater appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture

5. Seek improvements in all licensed premises and throughout the brewing industry

They're not actually goals are they? They're activities, habits, actions, functions, customs etc but they're not actually GOALS.

Rob Sterowski said...

"when did you last see an ale advertise to a younger drinker?"

I can think of a canine-themed brewery which gets mentioned very often ...

Sat In A Pub said...


I'm sure TM will be along shortly but as an outsider, come on! My dictionary defines goal as "a projected state of affairs that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve." Take just no 5, for example. How is that not a goal? It certainly isn't "activities, habits, actions, functions, customs" as you suggest.

If you don't agree with their goals, fair enough but it's no use saying they have no goals.

Jeff Pickthall said...


But they leave the "projected state of affairs that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve" vague, unquantified and unspecified.

Tandleman said...

I'm not sure or not whether there is supporting documentation for these goals - and as Tyson has stated they are goals, aims, objectives etc.

Anyway, it's not a PLC. They don't have to specify in the way Jeff suggests.

Rob Nicholson said...

>CAMRA is not interested in Ireland and, personally, I'm perfectly happy with that.

That's not quite true. There were two motions I remember from the last AGM specifically about Ireland. One was to include information about Irish breweries in the GBG (accepted) and the second to include Irish pubs in the GBG (rejected). The later was rejected quite rightly because the infrastructure isn't in place to be able to track & survey the pubs.

Cheers, Rob.

The Beer Nut said...

It's not in place to track and monitor the breweries either, judging from the rubbish they actually put in the 2010 guide.

Unknown said...

Beer Nut,

Do you not have any communication channels through which you can rectify that?

The Beer Nut said...

Well, I suppose I could e-mail them, or something. Though to list the errors I'd probably end up having to buy the book, and I already have all the doorstops I need.

Barry M said...

Next year they can ask Beoir to help supply up-to-date and accurate brewery information.

Whorst said...

I'd like to add that they do provide nice toilets at both Olympia and Earls Court locations.

I'm off to go drinking up in Redondo Beach. Full tap listing of both Proper Real and cask(if it applies) will be chronicled. I expect mayhem this afternoon. Toodles!

Ski Test said...

My wife and I attended our first CAMRA event last night. Let me put this in context; I like beer, my wife likes beer. I waste my time with a website that reviews the worst pubs in my home town, telling the punters which to avoid and why.

I’ve travelled, lived and studied in North America, the Far East and Europe so my tastes run from Bohemian Pilsners, via American craft brewers to developing a particular fondness for East European porters and stouts. We live in the centre of a large Northern city. We have a friend who has a real ale pub right in the middle of town. He’s in the running for our CAMRA local pub of the year, and in the spirit of gerrymandering we thought we’d join up and vote for him.

Having watched a Hornby train destroy much of Corrie we decided to risk a CAMRA wander. It’s destroyed my life. I now realise that I have a script inside me, as desperate to get out as the Alien in John Hurt’s stomach. It’s going to be called The Tickers and it’s going to be as big as The Office. I can’t rest until it’s been written.

Picture the scene, a real ale bar filled with team CAMRA. Checked shirts, bad hair, drooling over the Jaipur. Drinks are ordered, not with any apparent desire to enjoy the experience. A series of halves are parked on the bar. Aromas are savoured, clarity is checked. A finger is dipped into a freshly drawn half, then rubbed on the inside of a cheek [for tasting, not scratching]. A pub full of people apparently passionate about beer, yet displaying all of the warmth of butterfly collectors discussing humane killing.

Now we’re not teenagers, in fact, God help us I’m over 40, yet I was a mere child in this gathering. Not only a child by calender, but a child in attitude, dress, demeanour, mannerisms. Mrs Pubwatcher will tell you that I dress like a Grandfather. Team CAMRA dressed like his gardner. I’ve always regarded CAMRA as something of a middle-class pass time, something confirmed by the accents asking for a sample of every hand pull beer on the bar before settling on the first one. However, if some poor soul had walked into the middle of this gathering and looked rather than listened they’d have assumed it was a gathering of tramps, slowly eking out their halfs to make them last all night.

Beer is about enjoyment, relaxation, noise, laughter. It’s about taste, pleasure, and friends. Where did it all go wrong ? They must have been normal once. They must have laughed once, they can’t always have dressed like the wurzels.

Moving into Attenborough mode we stepped back and watched the complete lack of enjoyment associated with every sup. Wilde said that the cynic knows the price of everything but the value of nothing, well this gathering seemed to understand the specific gravity of everything, but tasted nothing - other than to decide whether the hops were Kentish or Saaz.

WHO CARES ! Beer, and drinking ought to be about pleasure, taste. A social and a sensual experience, yet team CAMRA seemed to engage in the drinking equivalent of spending time under the duvet with Claudia Schiffer using a ruler and compasses to compare the radius of her left and right nipples.

Yet we’ll be back. It was one of the oddest nights of my life, but next time I ll be prepared. I can’t resist the prospect of creating a living Bateman cartoon in the style of the man who..... This one will be the man who ordered a pint of John Smiths during a CAMRA wander. Of course the best part will be the reply from our bar’s patron ‘what the fxxk for’ ?