Should camra focus on real ale brewing or real ale delivery?
Thanks for your question CrazyDave. It’s a short one but it encompasses much to think about.
In fact we must have been pre-empting your question as the Intertwit team were discussing and debating just this topic in the pub last night. What has probably prompted your question (and our chat) is CAMRA’s recent decision to consult their membership about the future direction of their esteemed organisation.
So before we move on to your question CrazyDave it maybe helpful to see how we at Intertwit.com would answer CAMRA’s 2016 Consultation Survey. So here goes:
Which of the following best fits your view of who CAMRA should represent in future?
A – Drinkers of real ale
CAMRA have been representing these guys successfully for 45 years and the battle is won! We don’t know what it was like in the 1970’s but tales of fizzy keg bitter and kipper ties chill us to our core. We’ve more beer choice than ever before in this country and if we want to drink a refreshing West Coast style IPA, pint of mild or a bottle of craft beer brewed by a man in East London with a beard bigger than a bears head then we blimmin’ well will! Job done, great work, so we will discount A.
B – Drinkers of real ale, cider and perry
As above but substitute the beer for pints of 9% strength fruity stuff that will make you go blind. CAMRA have done a good job of promoting cider and perry in the face of the stuff that’s cold to begin with but you still pour over ice to eliminate the taste completely. Modern cider is only drinkable if it’s 39 degrees Centigrade in the shade. We’ll discount B as well.
C -All beer drinkers
D – All beer, cider and perry drinkers
We’ll put these two together as these probably best represent what we like here at Intertwit.com. For instance, we like real ale. A lot. And we like those small cider and perry producers even if we don’t drink much of what they produce.We like the fact they are drawn from a pump on draught. It’s nice and it’s natural and it’s British. We make great beer.
We are, however, contemporary modernists at intertwit.com and although we don’t have the bushy beard thing going on we really like the rise of so-called craft brewers in the UK. They have pushed the boundaries of what you can do with beer and their new-fangled techniques have the kept the traditional large brewers on their toes. Just because their beer comes out of a different tap it shouldn’t be discounted by real ale drinkers. These guys produce an excellent product.
And we also like European beer. From the classic Belgians to the cutting edge Danes and Dutch. We even like lager…as long as it comes from Munich.
In a nutshell we love all beer as long as it is quality – and that’s the important word. We won’t drink any old rubbish. We have a discerning modern taste with an appreciation for the traditional. All beer drinkers should be able to appreciate this so CAMRA needs to keep telling people the same. But having said all that we don’t think option C or D on its own goes far enough for reasons we will explain later.
E – All pub-goers, regardless of what they prefer to drink
Pubs are having a hard time as we know and we hate seeing pubs close down. Yes CAMRA should be supporting pubs and pub-goers but sometimes pubs closedown for a reason – and that because they are crap, don’t try hard enough and just don’t serve a quality product. So by all means, CAMRA should be focusing on the role of pubs and supporting pub-goers. So yes let’s support E. But it’s not just about E is it? Because we like D too much.
F – All alcohol drinkers
This seems too wide a remit to us and the reason why CAMRA exists is beer. Not wine, not whisky or gin or eggnog. There’s no point in completely alienating a large swathe of the 180,000 members that you fought so hard for in the first place. So let’s discount F straight away.
G – Something Else
So something else it is. What we’d go for is a kind of D Plus with a bit of E thrown in.
Concentrate on promoting quality beer wherever it comes from and however it is served. The Great British Beer Festival held in London each August is a great old day out and represents all that is great in UK brewing. Rows and rows of draught pumps full of real ale. Bloody great! It also has a whole section of European beers that are served on tap. Why not open that up to include a UK Craft Brewing section? It’ll introduce both sets of devotees to something new and will only strengthen the beer sector. Beer is good, beer is great as someone probably said.
Concentrate on ensuring that the product served in pubs is “Quality”
CrazyDave, do you know what really gets our goat at Intertwit.com? Pubs not knowing how to serve and look after their beer. We’ve been in too many pubs that, because they’ve got a couple of ale pumps, think they know about beer when in fact all you get is a freezing cold, flat horrible tasting pint of pish.
There’s little point in CAMRA extolling the virtues of X, Y & Z brewery if, when it’s poured into a pint glass at the pub, the barperson doesn’t know anything about the product or whether it tastes good, bad or shockingly bad. How dispiriting must this be for a brewer who takes the time and skill to produce a quality product only to see it treated with so little respect at the point of sale?
So CAMRA, get on your high horses and do something about the education of pub landlords and their staff. Make them understand that beer is a product to be cherished and savoured!
Make sure the customer is drinking “Beer As it Should Be”.
So CrazyDave, having gone through all that, where does that leave us with your question:
“Should CAMRA focus on real ale brewing or real ale delivery?”
Our answer is conclusively: Continue with the former and crack on with the latter.
I’m sure that helps you so have a pint of something nice to celebrate!