Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Aims of CAMRA

I've been saying for years that CAMRA has become less of a Campaign for Real Ale and more of a Campaign for Saving Pubs Regardless of How Shit They Are. CAMRA knows that it has won the battle to save real ale; we all know this.

I have accused CAMRA in the past of having another aim, the anti-craft keg aim, but I'm grown up now and I know that's not the case and it's merely just the view of some members. I know that CAMRA's technical committee, whatever the hell that actually is, has said that key keg beer is OK because no CO2 touches the yeast and we have in fact seen key keg bars at official CAMRA beer festivals within the last 6 months or so; this is, of course, wonderful news as it shows that CAMRA as an organisation and some branches are more progressive than I once gave them credit for.

Now, I'm no longer a CAMRA member as I got a bit annoyed at the views of some local branch members, but I'm over that. I'm going to put it down to my youth and the fact that at the time I was working for a local brewery that exclusively brewed craft keg lagers and ales. I'm not going to go over the ins and outs of this as it's irrelevant really, but even throughout my annoyance I've always kept a close eye what's going on with CAMRA.

Recently, however, so has everyone else; even those that are strongly anti-CAMRA may potentially see the organisation in a positive light due to the CAMRA Revitalisation Project.

The whole idea is that it's a survey and a bunch of consultations around the country that gives CAMRA members the voice to say what they think today's aims of the organisations should be.

The big question, with several options, in the consultation document is:

Q: How broad and inclusive should our campaigning be?

1) Real ale drinkers
2) Real ale, cider and perry drinkers
3) All beer drinkers
4) All beer, cider and perry drinkers
5) All pub goers
6) All drinkers

Now, in recent years it has looked like option 5, all pub goers but at the same time it's really option 1, or 2 if you're at a CAMRA beer festival.

Option 3 is what really grinds my fucking gears though...

"Should CAMRA represent drinkers of all types of beer on the grounds that if they drink beer they may be potential converts to real ale?"

What a load of condescending bollocks. I don't think I know a single British craft beer lover who didn't start on real ale. It reminds me of the article in the local, and really poorly named, CAMRA magazine "Norfolk Nips" where a bunch of them went and did the Bermondsey Beer Mile which was pretty much wasted on them as the article was just complaining that everywhere they went was keg beer then, the finishing line was the icing on the cake "All of the young people we spoke to were interested in what we had to say about real ale so we may have some potential converts". Excuse me? You went down to London and did the Bermondsey Beer Mile and basically turned it into an outing to preach about real ale? Get in the fucking sea.

I've banged on about the evils of conversion before so I'm not going to talk about it again but the above statement proves that even if CAMRA as an organisation did move to option 3, to represent all beer drinkers some branches still wouldn't accept it.

Option 4 talks about representing all traditional styles of beer, cider and perry but without discriminating about whether it's keg or cask, which won't work as it looks very anti-innovation.

Really the only option that looks realistic and less discriminatory is option 5, to represent all pub goers which is what it seems CAMRA has been doing for a while now anyway. Aside from the one local example I mentioned, most of what I see of CAMRA online is not about promoting real ale but more about supporting pubs and keeping them open regardless of whether they sell real ale. Hats off to my local branch for the fact that they have tried to keep local pubs that only sell mainstream keg beer open though.

I think it's pretty much pointless, in the very diverse beer world of 2016, to have a one track mind of just promoting real ale. CAMRA has proven as an organisation that it can be open to new things and they've managed to save real ale and get it into thousands and thousands of pubs across the UK so focusing on pubs and pub goers regardless of what they serve or drink is the logical move. We see pubs close all the time; they may be pubs we wouldn't ever think of going to but they have a purpose (coming soon: blog about pubs I would never dream of going to but did go to).

So CAMRA, that's my two cents for you, represent all pub goers. Those lager louts, they're the ones keeping pubs open. They're in your local every single day necking pints and pints of Foster's, keeping the landlord busy while you're at work.

Nate

3 comments:

  1. When you're on fire there's a terrible beauty to it Nate. I have to say, my fondness for "craft keg" came after years spent drinking macro lager and Guinness with only the slightest of detours via Young's Special/Landlord/Wadworth 6x/ESB etc.

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  2. The campaign needs to be about real ale if it is going to continue (maybe battle is won and they don't need to) but at the moment big enemies of real ale are bland boring ale, badly kept ale and pub closures. Fighting craft keg drinkers is diversion that helps no one - central camra get that,as do some branches. it's a big consultation so no rapid changes and some branches will remain fighting old battles sadly.

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  3. I don't think it necessarily contradicts your argument, but worth repeating this quote from Boozy Procrastinator:

    "People who deal only in “craft” beer do not care about some dirty old pub and the dirty old people who are in it and the dirty old community that it holds together."

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