Wednesday, April 6, 2016

CAMRA - A Fellow Traveller's View

I have never been a member of CAMRA, at least not the Campaign for Real Ale (the homebrew club I go to is called the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale). It really didn't make any sense to be a member when I lived in Prague, and it still doesn't now that I live in Virginia. Those facts though don't change the fact that whenever I go home to the UK I drink mostly real ale, actually that's understating it a bit, I actively hunt out real ale. I consider myself something of a CAMRA fellow traveller and am grateful that they took the step to protect, promote, and campaign for a wonderful expression of beer drinking.

Having said all of that, it is clear to me that the Revitalisation Project that CAMRA are now undertaking is kind of overdue. I remember running into some CAMRA members when I lived in Prague, Liverpool had spanked United 4-1 at Old Trafford, and we went to Pivovarský Dům for some celebratory pints, and got talking with them about Marston's MD referring to certain sections of the CAMRA membership as 'gobby Hobbits'. These guys were, if memory serves, knowledgeable about beer in general, appreciative of a good lager, and good company over all.

That's kind of what I would like to see come out of the Revitalisation Project, a campaign that knows and promotes good beer in general, sure with a focus on real ale but without being snotty about it.

I would also like them to drop their quasi-nationalist double standard. If you go to the Great British Beer Festival the foreign bars serve beer from kegs rather than casks, seemingly the thinking being that this allegedly inferior product is perfectly okay for Johnny Foreigner but not for John Bull Esq. Good beer is good beer whether served from a cask, keg, bottle, or can, and British brewers shouldn't have to labour under the misapprehension that cask is the be all and end all of British beer.

As well as being an opportunity to broaden the scope, and appeal, of the Campaign, this project is also an opportunity to re-victual the idea cabinet so that once again CAMRA is a vital part of the beer scene in the UK in a way that is relevant to drinkers in the 21st Century. Without it, I fear the Campaign will become just a chapter in the next edition in the Oxford History of Beer, an important chapter yes, but still just history consigned to the page.


  1. I hope that pint of stout wasn't served to anyone like that!

  2. Don't worry, it wasn't. I topped it off before drinking it.