CAMRA : So Long. And Thanks For All The Fish (Guts)

2.5%. So close. And yet so far.

The membership have apparently spoken. And 27.4% of the pitifully small number that voted, voted to block progress. And that pitifully small number are singing from the rooftops.

The above tweet was my newsflash this morning. I’d spent yesterday doing the important things in life, drinking beer from a variety of dispense methods. Having fun doing so. With friends.

Increasingly, CAMRA – as an organisation – has been almost irrelevant to me. “Revitalisation” almost changed that. Almost being the key word.

For a long time now, I’ve been of the firmly held opinion that good beer is just that. Good beer. Irrespective of the method of dispense. If it tastes good it IS good.

But approximately 5000 people disagreed. 5000 out of 181,000. That’s democracy for you. Especially when the bar is set as high as 75%.

The whole debate around the embracing of all beer was – to put a positive spin on it – vigorous. And frequently intolerant and poisonous. And hugely ill-informed.

The fact that some people STILL spout nonsense equating “craft” with “keg”, just goes to show that they are clueless. And that appears to be the main line of attack. Rooted in history.

“Bland keg beer”. F**k me! CAMRA is 47 years old! The battle for “Real Ale” was won! The Campaign did its job. And did it well. We’ve never had it so good. The variety and quality of beer you can drink in 2018 bears testament to the historic success of CAMRA.

Historic. Success.

And the word “Dinosaurs”. Oh how we laughed!

The funny thing is though that I know many upfront CAMRA activists. Many of whom play a leading role in their branches and indeed nationally. People of influence. People who DO know a lot about beer. And whilst their drink of choice would ordinarily be cask conditioned beer, they are not adverse to a bit of delicious keg.

Their tastebuds evolved. They certainly aren’t dinosaurs. They recognise good tasty beer. Irrespective of dispense method.

Many of these are friends. And I’d like to think will remain so. They are good people.

Beer has evolved. Unfortunately, approximately 5000 people have blocked CAMRA (as an organisation) from evolving with it.

I’m not a CAMRA activist. I tried that once. And gave up. I was young, but not so foolish as to allow myself to be patronised.

I generally believe though that – in the main – CAMRA is a force for good. But too many members prefer to behave like Ostriches. While the rest of us move on.

Yes. I “get” that the majority of the Revitalisation agenda got through.

Yes. I “get” that the sinister “Motion 8” sank almost without trace.

But that’s not enough.

This vote was merely the straw that broke this particular Camel’s back.

I’ll continue to consume and enjoy good beer from cask, keg, bottle & can.

I’ll continue to organise The Independent Salford Beer Festival.

I’ll continue to “do my bit” to promote good beer irrespective of dispense method.

But I’m done with pissing from within the tent. I’ll do it from outside now.

Thank you CAMRA. And goodbye.

10 comments on “CAMRA : So Long. And Thanks For All The Fish (Guts)

  1. You are still most welcome to visit Bolton’s little festival later this week, drinking anything including the evil potions from the #differentlypackaged bar. Just don’t forget to pay at the door.

  2. A lot of what is called craft keg is very good beer, sometimes characterised by extremely high hop rates, typically cold and highly carbonated. However a concern of many of the so called “dinosaurs” is what happened in the 70’s when the keg technology to preserve and dispense beer far more cheaply came to the fore and almost wiped out what we call real ale. Back then it was tasteless fizz. Now we have some fantastic tasting craft keg beers, which are great innovations in their own right such that the technology has moved on with for example key keg. I am sure most CAMRA members are delighted with the extra choice available to the consumer, but that should not mean we have to alter the aims and objectives away from our core historical campaign goal. To say that the aims have already been met are nonsense is clear from the many many pubs that aspire to be “real ale” pubs continue dispense there beer poorly; The fight continues to keep the pressure on to serve the best possible ale. All be it a personal opinion, the promotion of real ale should remain the heart of what CAMRA promotes.

    • Dave, little I can argue with there. And I completely agree that (I prefer the term) cask conditioned beer should be at the heart of the Campaign.

      Just think there’s room in the tent for more than just that, whilst keeping cask as the core.

  3. Well said lad, I’m a long time CAMRA member now living for many years in Vancouver BC. I could not have described my feelings better than your personal perspective.. time to move on.. Cheers Trevor (da X MANC)

  4. Jim,

    You were not there and have reacted to a stupidly worded text. Or whatever. Protz was also not there. I was. You are so wrong and have jumped to a massively incorrect conclusion.

  5. Jim. You are such a nice guy that I hate disagreeing with you. I really though think you need to have a look at what was actually achieved and not the relatively minor setback of the defeat of one special resolution which read as follows:

    To approve the insertion of the following Article 2(e)
    in CAMRA’s Articles of Association: “2(e) to act as the
    voice and represent the interests of all pub-goers and
    beer, cider and perry drinkers;”

    Why does this upset you so much? Despite the defeat CAMRA is the de facto voice. It is minor and is is eclipsed by the success of the other SRs and the positive and progressive motions at Conference. As for your assertion that “The battle for “Real Ale” was won! The Campaign did its job. And did it well. We’ve never had it so good.” That is just a tad complacent. With a live product, the battle will never be won. It just goes on with high points and low points. Are we at a high? Not really. More choice has not brought better quality at point of dispense. There is much more still to do.

    As for embracing change, CAMRA has made huge leaps forward and if you look a little more closely at the changes, you’d hopefully realise it. You should read Ed’s site. I recommend it. It says all there that needs to be said about SR6.

    http://edsbeer.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/confused-about-camra.html

  6. The results of the AGM b votes is all extremely positive and something some of us (even me who has been a member for donkey’s years) have been recently fighting for. You are doing exactly what the old guard have been doing, reading things the wrong way by miles. Your attitude and Pete Brown’s disingenuous attitude really surprises me and leaves me feeling what I have been doing the last 2 years has been a waste of my time. You are reacting as bad as the “old guard”! Read the truth in the latest press release.

    CAMRA looks to future as members call for positive change

    Members of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) continued to drive positive change for the organisation during its Conference held in Coventry last weekend.

    Members attending CAMRA’s Conference, held after its AGM in Coventry over the weekend of 21/22 April, agreed beer festivals should not be limited to selling just real ale; called for new diversity and equality policies; overwhelmingly defeated a motion to reduce tax relief for small breweries; agreed a policy that CAMRA members should not demand or expect discounts from pubs and breweries; and removed its former opposition to ‘cask breathers’.

    The vast majority of members had already demonstrated their support for change by voting through all but one of a package of measures designed to make CAMRA more relevant, inclusive and welcoming, during the Annual General Meeting held on the morning of 21 April.

    Speaking after the close of the Conference, new National Chairman Jackie Parker said, “It’s been a very successful and forward looking weekend and it’s very positive to see our members voting to approve motions which are designed to be proactive and positive and help position CAMRA as a welcoming and inclusive organisation – aiming to improve consumer experiences, rather than telling people what they should or shouldn’t be drinking.”

    Better choice at beer festivals
    CAMRA festivals have been given the opportunity to widen their appeal to all drinkers by offering a wider range of beers and other products – including non-real ales.

    Members at CAMRA’s Conference voted to approve the removal of wording in the organisation’s policy document which said festivals should only stock real ale, cider and perry. They also agreed to a motion calling for festivals which offered other types of beer to provide educational material about all beer types on sale.

    National Director Abigail Newton pointed out that there were a huge number of beer drinkers who didn’t drink real ale who currently didn’t attend the organisation’s festivals – but who could be attracted.

    She said, “Festivals who offer other beers increase their competitive advantage, attract new customers and give us the chance to get our message across once we get them through the door.”

    National Director Nik Antona said CAMRA’s policy on this was 30 years out of date and it was time for change. He referred to Kodak, which became irrelevant because it didn’t change.

    He said, “Festival organisers have already realised the market has changed and I don’t want festivals to become irrelevant and experience the ‘Kodak effect’. We want our festival organisers to attract a wider audience and continue to be successful in a changing market.”

    National Director Ian Hill reassured members that the motion would not stop them from running festivals as they wanted, but gave organisers choice. He added, “I want to salute those festivals who have embraced the positive opportunity of a more modern and positive attitude.”

    Equality & diversity
    Members voted to approve a motion calling for the National Executive (the organisation’s board of directors) to set equality and diversity targets and report back on progress annually.

    Urging members to support the motion, National Director Abigail Newton said CAMRA had already taken steps to promote inclusivity and combat discrimination.

    She added, “Embedding equality and diversity into the organisation is not going to be a simple or quick process, but this motion will help to start the changes we require to make CAMRA an organisation which is welcoming to all.

    ‘Individuals are more likely to join and remain members of CAMRA if they can see that our membership includes people who look and think like they do. Change requires leadership and while enacting this motion might be challenging, it’s is our duty to provide it.”

    She added that there were organisations and support available to help CAMRA improve its diversity and inclusivity. And she concluded, “If we’re not prepared to do all we can to ensure our Campaign is diverse, inclusive and welcoming to all, what are we saying?”

    Small Brewery Duty Relief
    CAMRA members overwhelmingly rejected a call to campaign to reduce Small Brewery Duty Relief.

    Phil Edmond from Somerset branch said that passing this motion would be a retrograde step and reduce the number of breweries and the choice of beer for drinkers. He added, “If [this motion] is passed it would be the final nail in the coffin for many breweries.”

    National Director Ian Packham said, “This calls on CAMRA to campaign for an increase in tax on brewers, which is a dramatic reversal in CAMRA’s policy and campaigning over the last 40 years.”

    In urging members to reject the motion he added that increasing the tax breweries paid by reducing the Small Brewers Relief would lead to higher prices for drinkers and brewery closures.

    Conference was told that further discussions were ongoing. CAMRA’s position has been and remains that the brewing industry should find a compromise and present a single proposal to the Government in support of its wish for Small Brewers Relief to be reviewed.

    Don’t demand discounts
    Members clearly supported a motion stating a belief that pubs and breweries should not be expected to give discounts, and criticised when they failed to do so – but recognised the freedom of pubs and breweries to offer discounts if they wished.

    Buster Grant, brewery owner and former chairman of the Small Independent Brewers Association (SIBA), told the Conference that there was increasing financial pressure on publicans and brewers and that it seemed perverse that some members of CAMRA insisted on demanding a discount.

    He added, “Not only is this culture eroding the margins that can be earned but it threatens the stability of the supply chain and counters the aims of this organisation. It also creates a negative feeling about CAMRA.”

    There were no speakers against the motion, which was clearly carried.

    CAMRA now neutral on ‘cask breathers’
    Members decided to change CAMRA’s policy on ‘cask breathers’ – devices used in pub cellars to lengthen the life of cask beers by ensuring a blanket of carbon dioxide preserves the beer. Previously against such devices, the motion called on the Campaign to end its opposition to cask breathers.

    National Director Nick Boley explained that all cask breathers do is stop air from getting into the cask and keeps the condition of the beer closer to a freshly tapped cask.

    He added, “I’ve tried to work out the chemistry of why cask breathers were wrong: I couldn’t and I’m still scratching my head. Cask breathers are a boon for small rural pubs and cafe bars. If we want to get cask beer into these outlets this is one way of doing it.

    “The ban on cask breather policy has had its day and there is no reason to continue to exclude pubs using cask breathers from our guide.

    John O’Donnell, from Trafford and Hulme branch, said, “We’ve heard a popular myth that beer needs oxygen for secondary fermentation, it doesn’t. Oxygen is beer’s enemy. This perpetuates another myth that pubs that use cask breathers aren’t good pubs. [Our current policy] results in members going into pubs and tell them they’re not eligible for awards. It’s a bad thing.’

    National Director Ben Wilkinson said, “This motion is about giving more freedom to CAMRA’s branches. There are lots of pubs across the UK which cannot be placed in the Good Beer Guide (GBG) because of our policy. This will allow pubs to be included in the GBG based on the quality of the beer and the pub.

    ‘There is a lot of confusion about cask breathers which is simply not true. They improve the quality of beer and that is all that they do. Let’s trust branches and our local members to assess the quality of beers on their merit.”

    22 April 2018 | 1060 Reads
    – See more at: https://www.caterlyst.com/caterlyst3/insight/insight.aspx?n=20970#sthash.fBq2Q8Vf.dpuf

  7. couldn’t agree more, They are very much an organisation stuck in the past, they are the people who held onto their horses when the car arrived. ultimately though camra set out to save the cask ale from the march of larger and ultimately succeeded and just like then they are currently more obsessed with the idea of preaching to us rather than exploring new beer with us.
    true elitism.

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