CAMRA Revitalisation

Key members talk CAMRA Revitalisation

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Key members talk CAMRA Revitalisation

Related tags: Camra, Beer

Key members of The Campaign for Real Ale’s Revitalisation Project have given an insight into its progress as the process approaches the halfway stage.

Members of the committee working on the review gave their views about the key aims of the project, which will be led by founding member of CAMRA Michael Hardman.

“More than 20,000 members have responded to our request for their opinions about CAMRA’s future, but we hope that even more may respond to our second survey – which seeks to define the scope of the Campaign’s future activity," Hardman said.

“We founded CAMRA, which we initially called the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale, because we were concerned about the lack of quality and choice available to beer drinkers in the early 1970s. I’m pleased to see there is widespread agreement that the situation today is quite different.”

James Yeomans, who owns a brewery and a pub in south London, described himself as representative of many more recent CAMRA members. 

Quality of beer

“I am solely preoccupied with the quality of the beer that I produce, sell and drink,” the 27-year-old said.

“It is evident that many people believe the term ‘craft’ is synonymous with ‘quality’. We need to avoid fixation on ‘the craft revolution’ however and focus instead on championing and promoting great beer.”

Yeomans suggests a new definition of craft beer, which could be in CAMRA’s sights.

"Beer made without regard to the cost of production, embracing modern brewing techniques and made with an uncompromising focus on quality," he proposed.

Like Michael Hardman, James Lynch is a former chairman from the 1970s, and led many consultation meetings with groups of CAMRA members over the past five months.

Diverse opinions

“There’s a diverse range of opinion about almost everything,” Lynch said.

“But three strong themes seems to emerging in most of the discussions. The fact that CAMRA should always champion the production and drinking of real ale does not contradict the view, expressed by many, that CAMRA should be more welcoming of those who choose to drink other types of beer.

“Campaigning to preserve pubs and other social venues where drinkers can access the full range of beers and ciders is strongly supported, as is the notion of providing members with more information, ultimately enabling them to discriminate between different types and styles of beer and to make more informed decisions about what they drink.”

Education and training

Joni Tyler, head of continuing professional development for the Royal Institute of British Architects, said: “I think the opinion that CAMRA should, as part of its membership offer, provide education and training that will enable members to speak knowledgeably and with greater authority about beer is quite compelling for many.

“After all, we belong to CAMRA because we care about beer and cider and want these drinks to be brewed, kept and served in the best possible condition. I’m sure many members would welcome support in developing their capacity to make informed judgements and to spread the word knowledgeably. 

“Education and training can also provide members and others with the skills to campaign to preserve pubs as essential community assets.”

Consultation

The Revitalisation Project consultation is approaching a conclusion. The committee’s task is to take the opinions gathered from members and other interested parties, such as brewers, publicans and politicians, and form a proposal that will be put to CAMRA members at their AGM in April next year.

Hardman continued: “CAMRA has developed a fine reputation over the past 45 years, and is widely recognised and respected as the voice of the drinker.

“The campaign has been built on the efforts of active volunteers: those who run beer festivals, who are actively involved in judging beers and pubs and in leading branches across the length and breadth of the UK.

“Our task is to provide an incentive and motivation for others to join them in maintaining CAMRA as a vibrant and relevant organisation, which can continue to represent the interests of those who love good beer and drinking socially.”

Survey

CAMRA’s second Revitalisation Project survey, in which members are asked to express opinions about whether the campaign should retain its focus on real ale, cider and perry, pub and clubs or broaden its scope of interest to include a wider range of drinks and places to drink, is open until 6 September. 

Members can access the survey here bit.ly/CAMRARPS2.

Related topics: Beer

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