Great Britain The Future of CAMRA

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Zimbo, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Think everyone knows my opinion about CAMRA and where its going but I'd be curious to know of other BA's take on their situation. Come on, don't be shy.
     
  2. drtth

    drtth Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    From the perspective of the occasional visitor, an organization that doesn't adapt to and grow beyond the changes it helped to create will become ossified and die.
     
    Zimbo likes this.
  3. RendoMike

    RendoMike Sep 6, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Hard to say. Maybe it's all part of a cycle. Like everything, it takes a new generation to change things. The real ale movement doesn't seem to be much different than the craft brew movement in the states, but comparatively, the craft brew movement is very young. 15-20 years down the road, when every craft brewery offers nothing but 17 varieties of barrel-aged RIS or a IIIIIIPA, innovation stops and the market stagnates; however, I think there are major cultural differences which will keep that from happening. If this doesn't make sense, I blame the lack of sleep and too much home brew. To bed I go!
     
  4. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Dream on, CAMRA is here to stay despite the efforts of some to disparage and denigrate European brewing at every opportunity.
     
    reprob8 and Stahlsturm like this.
  5. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Probably yeah but if they stay on their present course I can see its influence really waning over time. We all know young people are starting to take a real interest in brewy things but CAMRA is definitely on the back burner of their beery thoughts.
     
  6. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Luckily decent brewers are springing up all over the shop and expanding despite camra (i.e. Tiny Rebel recently doubled in size), showing they do have less influence that you'd think. They seem to be adapting a bit though, a few ones I've seen at camra festivals haven't been "real ale" in that they're not brewed "using traditional ingredients" (i.e. coffee stouts etc). All that's needed now is for them to realise that saying all keg served beers are bad and should be got rid of is a pretty ill-informed and stupid thing to say.
     
  7. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Sep 25, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    I think CAMRA will and should go on as the protection of cask
    is key, as it is the best way to serve most British beers and because it is not the most cost effective way to do so.

    Breweries and CAMRA should be able to disagree whilst still being professionally respectful
    I see Brewdog's rants as brattish attempts at getting cheap publicity but that is just my bag of hops.

    It would be nice for CAMRA to grudgingly admit that well kept keg is a hell of a better product than off cask
    and that certain beers do not command the sales to make real ale dispensing viable

    Surely I am not the only one to have a pint of Old Tom that would have been better sprinkled on their chips
    and so should bear in mind the line
    "If you haven't anything nice to say then say nowt"
     
    His_Royal_Hoppiness and Zimbo like this.
  8. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    CAMRA's strength seems to be in lobbying the government over beer taxes, brewery closures etc & for that they should be complimented. Unfortunately for me they've forgotten about promoting quality beer & breweries in the process. James Watt's CAMRA rantings may offend some but he's not the only one to have legitimately complained about CAMRA. The recent treatment of Cromarty by CAMRA only further highlights the blinkered world in which elements of CAMRA live.
     
  9. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    What did they do to Cromarty?

    Also have any of their tax campaigns actually worked?
     
  10. breda7

    breda7 Nov 21, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    i think camra is outdated and toothless, the local branches in my area (west yorkshire) seem to be only interested in putting on their own beer festivals. which i abhor, they don't seem to want to take on the pubco companies have have almost destroyed local pubs with their get rich quick greedy attitude to landlords lives. craft keg is the antichrist, however, when challenged as to what the problem is, the answer is well its keg. but its not KEG as we knew it years ago, its a brand new style of brewing that produces a superb beer and is quite a difficult product to get right
     
    CwrwAmByth likes this.
  11. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    For those that don't believe in CAMRA's relevance in this day and age, does that mean Brewdog are winning or have won the fight? ;)
     
  12. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    No it means breweries who aren't attention whores have.
     
  13. Robert_N

    Robert_N Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    Tiny Rebel's first ever festival was a CAMRA festival and it was where they first made any kind of a name, they also sell more beer in Cask and prioritise cask over everything else, this is why they have not bottled since the Autumn.
    Their keg products are not to my knowledge seen outside of the brewery open days.
    I know this does not directly relate to CAMRA but TR are hardly at the vanguard of a revolution, real ale is their bread and butter.
     
  14. Robert_N

    Robert_N Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    CAMRA is a group with a particular aim, an aim that is dictated by it's membership, people who don't like it should either join up and influence policy or set up a new organisation.

    I for one am grateful for all the hardwork CAMRA put before I was born so that I can experience the unique taste of real ale.
     
    reprob8 and EmperorBevis like this.
  15. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    This week a Scottish CAMRA branch cancelled an order of cask of Cromarty Red Rocker for one of their festivals after discovering that Cromarty has the audacity to also sell it in keg form. No shit.

    According to CAMRA rule 4.33:

    Beer festivals are not to stock or admit for any award, any beer branch which is produced
    in both cask and keg versions that mislead the drinker into believing that there is little or no
    difference between the two versions.

    How anyone at a CAMRA cask ale festival would, presumably there to drink real ale, confuse this with their keg version is anyone's guess but that's the story.
     
  16. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)


    BrewDog is winning the battle for attention but, if latest tastings of their new brewery is anything to go by, are losing the fight to produce consistent and interesting trailblazing beer.
     
  17. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Good point about the festivals. Forgot about the festivals. With Tiny Rebel I just mentioned them as they opened recently, brew a lot of keg/non traditional ales, and are really successful. I saw Hadouken on keg in London in December.
    That's pretty silly. If I was a Camra festival organiser I would have just said meh, it's a good beer, and it's served from a cask, what's the problem? Sounds like a rule that would have been relevant in the 70s/80s with mass keg producers trying to infiltrate the cask scene, in the same way InBev today make "craft" beers.
     
  18. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Sep 4, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    I have a fairly limited and possibly ignorant view on the subject but here is my opinion none the less. As someone who is young and focusing on making a career in the beer industry (let alone stateside), I have been infatuated with CAMRA since I read about them years ago. A visit to London really influenced how I view beer in every aspect and I have no doubt CAMRA had a big part of it. Now if I had to deal with it everyday and not just to gain perspective I very well could feel differently.
     
  19. Robert_N

    Robert_N Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    I guess I don't see them as good example as quite a lot of their output is cask, especially in the local area, at times it seems like it's easier to get hold of TR in London than here. Plus TR have never entered into any real keg v cask or CAMRA debates, probably because they don't have a problem with cask and sell a lot of it. They can't sell keg in Cardiff and Newport, nowhere around here sells "craft keg" as you know, even Cardiff's biggest TR proponent with a house beer made by TR does not sell their keg products as they are tied to ABInbev!

    I don't think CAMRA have a problem with non-traditional beer outside of the cask issue, i.e Ingredients, ageing etc
     
  20. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    I guess I relate Camra more to boring cask stuff that they usually champion most (i.e. the kind of breweries with beer rosters that at best read like - bitter, bitter, bitter, dark bitter, golden ale, golden ale, pale ale, mild, watery stout) than to more interesting stuff. I'm not championing keg either, because crappy keg is worse than crappy cask. Also not saying bitters and golden ales are boring, just than there are so many that are bland and could easily be copies of a hundred others. I love good ones, Rhymney, Tomos Watkin, Purple Moose etc.

    I do think something like Camrgb makes more sense though, with the attitude of not caring how a beer is made, who made it, or what it got dispense from, all that matters is how good it is as a beer. Though to be honest I do think it's great that stuff like Dark Star, Tiny Rebel, and Oakham is getting adopted by Camra for their festivals, because it shows they aren't completely steadfast in their love of bitters and golden ales.

    Plus if we had camrgb no arguments would be caused, unless groups of people really believed they should campaign for bad beer!
     
    RendoMike likes this.
  21. Robert_N

    Robert_N Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    CAMRA is concerned with dispense because that's it's main reason for existence, the quality an interest factor of beer is down to the brewer and/or is a matter of taste.

    CAMRA was set up as a consumer group, one of the most successful, enough people got together to show that they wanted a certain product over something else.
    Last time I checked membership numbers were increasing and along with other sources the membership fee funds the organisation so I don't think it's going anywhere soon.

    Take a look at the 'CAMRA Success' section on their website, I don't think they deserve the crap they get just because they want to to stick to the aim they had from day one.
     
  22. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Guess I just disagree with campaigning for a certain dispense method then, now I've had beers from keg which have been 10x better than the best I've had on cask. Doesn't make me think cask is inferior to keg, or vice versa, just that there are some really great beers on cask and some really great beers on keg, and some shitty beers on keg and some really shitty beers on cask. It just doesn't make much sense to me, supporting something with such a massive difference between the best and worst ones, especially when it's something that's no longer really threatened anymore.
     
    RendoMike likes this.
  23. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    Shouldn't they have both versions at their fest and serve them back to back to prove their point that cask is better than keg ? What argument could possibly be more powerful than having it right there in your tankard ?
     
    CwrwAmByth likes this.
  24. Aye

    Aye Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Well personally I don't accept that it's about a "method of dispense" . We all know cask ale is served from a variety of taps, fonts, engines etc. with no added CO2. This method of dispense malarkey, I have seen bandied about for a while now on other boards and blogs, and I'm not having a go at you Zimbo or CAB, 'cause you used the phrase, but it does appear to me to have been used (not particularly in this thread but elsewhere) as a quick way of denigrating Camra in the course of the cask vs craft keg debate.

    I think we all appreciate the landscape that beer drinkers in the 70s found themselves in with pubs awash with terrible and tasteless cold fizzy keg beers. Camra identified those qualities in keg beer as anathema to what they wanted and until very recently I really couldn't disagree. So now we find ourselves in a very different place with craft keg beers, still cold and fizzy but less so and a for a lot of the beers, all the better for it with unfiltered beers also making an appearance. Having followed the debate as far as cask/Camra vs craft keg for a long time now I sadly don't have much to add to the debate that hasn't been said countless times but I could pose some questions that might help, hinder, muddy the debate, expand etc

    Do craft keg proponents/ brewers actually want Camra to change or do they enjoy having some easily parodied organisation to rail against? Makes for good publicity and reading does the David vs Goliath scenario. It wouldn't be that hard to start a new organisation to promote their aims and probably more productive than demanding Camra change to accomodate them?

    What actually should Camra stand for when it has defined what is good by campaigning against what it sees as having been responsible for bad beer?

    If it is all just a matter of taste and all beers are equal (sorry, this came from the mouth of a brewery rep at my local) what keeps the big brewery industrial swill from making appearances at beers festivals under the guise of good beer?

    Is craft keg really as big a phenomenon in the UK as we, (who care about, consume, debate and etc online) surrounded by debate on blogs, websites, twitter, think it is?
     
  25. Aye

    Aye Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Also, is it worth joining Camra with a view to changing the organisation from within? The old guard seemingly entrenched in the positions Branch Sec, BLO, etc doesn't leave many places for someone who want to make a difference. One of my local branches had a bit of a 'situation' when proponents of craft keg quit when a vote didn't go their way (there was more to it than just this instance).
     
  26. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    It's just my opinion (not in cask vs keg debate, both can be awesome). Why should I support Camra who undeniably champion cask beer above all else, when I love good beer from cask, bottle, keg, can, and the plastic bin we use at home?
     
    boddhitree likes this.
  27. Aye

    Aye Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    No reason at all , I was a member during the 80s but didn't last long due to a pretty inactive local branch. Being a member was boring, the meetings tedious but i loved working the festivals.
    I'm sure there are many in the Camra ranks who love beer from cask, keg, bottle, growler, corny keg, beersphere and their reasons for membership are as varied, not purely that cask ale is the be all and end all.
     
  28. marquis

    marquis Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    According to the latest report from SIBA which represents a large section of newer breweries , craft keg accounts for around 2% of production, cask 84% and bottled beer 14%.
    CAMRA is through its articles of association and constitution an organisation specifically to lobby for cask and bottle conditioned beer ie , that which is least processed.It cannot suddenly espouse beer dispense which it was specifically set up to oppose!
    Cask is a problem child. At its best it allows the beer to develop and flourish in a way that transforms it over bottle and keg.I'm fortunate that in my area the overwhelming proportion of cask beer is kept excellently , to the extent that even a nondescript pint is a rarity. It is unfortunately though not everywhere at its best and where this is the norm for an establishment very likely a switch to "craft keg" would make sense.
    Where I feel that cask is vital is in the preservation of pubs.As long as lots of people feel that it's the gold standard then they will drink in them.Keg beer, however well it may be brewed, is not that much different from the same beer in a can or bottle so why visit a pub when it's cheaper by a mile in the supermarket?
     
  29. Aye

    Aye Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    I would say that that it was unlikely you would encounter anything other than Brewdog in a supermarket when looking for quality 'craft keg' beers and yes I'd buy 5 am saint whenever I could. All the dozens and dozens of cask ale brewers' bottled efforts with the stuffing knocked out of them I'd leave untouched as for the most part they're a disappointing shadow of same beers on cask. Sometimes I wonder if they're the same beer.
     
  30. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Not arguing with anything said before but to answer your question:
    1. Cheaper when you don't have to buy a whole bottle
    2. Offerings that don't get bottled
    3. As you'd probably agree with, it's nice to drink beer in a pub
     
  31. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    You would think wouldn't you? And despite my at times CAMRAsceptic tone I usually do prefer cask over craft keg (depending on the beer style) but there are times when I wonder if CAMRA really is the best ambassador of real ale for the 21st century.
     
  32. breda7

    breda7 Nov 21, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    just another thought no craft keg at festival, but many have a bottle beers from europe bar,mostly mass produced inbev favourites and then there is this thing where pubs are described as having several cask beers and a good selection of european lagers, fizzy pasturised shite sometimes brewed under licence in england...double standards or luddite thinking. i sometimes think of camra as loom breakers a good old west yorkshire saying
     
    Zimbo likes this.
  33. Aye

    Aye Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    I think the inclusion of European lagers and bottled foreign beers was a throwback to the time when the preservation of and promotion of different nations' brewing cultures was being touted, roundabout the time the European Beer Consumers Union kicked off.
     
  34. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Some have pretty good foreign beer selections though. The Chelmsford one has theres done by a Belgian beer bar company, with stuff on keg as well as bottles. Something like 20-40 beers. One of the few festivals I actually enjoy, as it isn't in a hot, cramped hall like most, instead being outside in marquees in the park.
     
  35. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Jan 5, 2009 Australia


    I was merely speaking in the metaphorical sense. That is, it was more to do with what Brewdog stood for towards CAMRA as an organisation that they were about preserving the simple traditions of English brewing such as maintaining quality mild cask offerings rather than trying to come to terms to and embrace the new age styles that Brewdog have championed and promoted more than probably any other UK brewery.

    It seems as if the OP is on the same page as me, although time will tell whether he will agree ;)
     
  36. reprob8

    reprob8 May 22, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    Must have missed that, what were James's legitimate complaints?
     
  37. reprob8

    reprob8 May 22, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    yes, we've been through this many times. If people think CAMRA needs to reassess it's stance then there is always the opportunity to influence it. Don't tell me that 'entryism' from the hordes of anti CAMRA Tickerati & Bloggerati is too hard to organise. Rise up and unshackle us and lead us to the promised land!
     
  38. reprob8

    reprob8 May 22, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    a list of your alternatives would be helpful
     
  39. Zimbo

    Zimbo Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    CAMRA's stance isn't really the problem. It's more the headline interpretation & the fact that this stance pushes away brewers who brew both craft keg and cask. CAMRA's recent success seems to be petitioning the government about beer tax ( if rumours of tomorrow's budget are to be believed) even though to me it isn't really just a cask issue. But they should be complimented about that esperacially since CAMRA seems to be inept at promoting or acknowledging many of the new tasty beers/breweries.
     
  40. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Sep 25, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Right now for a second let's talk shop
    and get down to the nitty gritty for a second

    The reason there are no findings into cask beer being better for you medically is because the big breweries
    hold sway over the research
    and the reason that real ale encouraging taste and flavour over consumption is because
    politically no one wants to support this

    in this much CAMRA is the only voice for beer sense
     
    boddhitree likes this.
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