I have alluded in the past, here at The Brewclub about Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) who can be credited with saving British beers from the mass-produced fizzy keg that was being marketed as ‘beer’ in the nineteen sixties and seventies.
Before CAMRA was formed in 1971, the beer market was dominated by brands like ‘Courage Tavern Keg’, ‘Double Diamond’ and (to quote Monty Python) ‘Bleedin’ Watneys Red Barrel’. To this day ‘Red Barrel’ remains a term of derision for a beer.
CAMRA reawakened a sense of pride in British Ales, and their achievements cannot be underestimated. Theirs is still the loudest voice when it comes to beer in the UK, at least from the consumer’s standpoint.
But, let’s face it, the world has moved on, and the recent growth of ‘Craft Beers’ now appears to be at odds with CAMRA’s traditionalist approach. CAMRA has a stated policy that ‘real ale’ can only be served from cask without the use of additional carbonation, this explicitly excludes any beers that are delivered in kegs.
This policy means that “any beer brand which is produced in both cask and keg versions” is not admitted to CAMRA festivals or supported by CAMRA.
So while CAMRA festival goers can continue enjoy traditional real ale, some classic modern craft ales from award-winning breweries such as Brewdog, Kernel and Redemption are effectively banned. This, in turn has led to the creation of ‘alternate’ (non CAMRA) beer festivals.
There may, however, be light at the end of this particular tunnel, I was recently forwarded a manifesto from the newly formed “Campaign for Really Good Beer.
The Campaign For Really Good Beer believes that:
- It is up to the brewer to decide how their beer is made and dispensed.
- Beer should be taken seriously but is essentially a drink to be enjoyed and celebrated with good humour.
- It is not for a select few to tell everyone what is or is not a good beer. The best way of judging if a beer is good is to listen to the people drinking it.
- The CAMRGB is neither provincial nor nationalistic. We enjoy beer from all over the world.
- Any discussions on points relating to beer or to The CAMRGB will be met with good humour and open, friendly communication.
- The CAMRGB is not about leaders and followers it is about people making new friends and connections. To this end The CAMRGB is open to anyone unless they bring prejudice of any kind to the group.
- One should never forget the power of people speaking with one voice.
- Celebrate beer because beer is brilliant.
Of course there is a danger inherent when rival campaigns are started; Monty Python’s “People’s Front of Judea” and “Judean People’s Front” spring to mind.
But until CAMRA wake up and smell the hops, as it were, my vote is with the new CAMRGB.