If you like good beer and good pubs, then you should definitely take an interest in CAMRA’s Revitalisation Project – even if you are not a CAMRA member, or don’t consider yourself to be a ‘CAMRA person’.
If you don’t like good beer and good pubs, then you should probably stop reading now.
To start from the beginning, for the uninitiated, CAMRA is the Campaign for Real Ale. It is an independent, voluntary organisation campaigning for real ale, community pubs and consumer rights.
So what is the CAMRA revitalisation project about?
It is described as a ‘review of CAMRA’s purpose, focus and strategy’. It has been set up to find new ways to breathe life into the Campaign, and it is doing this by consulting all CAMRA members.
So why is that a big deal?
Well, whether you like them or not, CAMRA are a powerful force in the brewing and pub world.
CAMRA’s origin’s date back to 1971, when a small group of people got together with the laudable aim of preventing the demise of real ale, which at the time was being wiped out by bland, fizzy keg beer cynically produced by the big brewers to increase their margins at the expense of taste and customer choice.
The campaign took off beyond all expectation. Today CAMRA has over 175,000 members across the world, and has been described as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe. Brewers and real ale are going from strength to strength.
Because of this, many people think the job is done and CAMRA is no longer needed.
Many other people see CAMRA as an organisation for old, boring, bearded men in sandals and dubious knitwear.
This has led CAMRA to re-consider its aims. Who should it represent? What is it for? How can it remain relevant in a world that is very different than it was in 1971?
It is therefore conducting a Consultation Survey which asks who CAMRA should represent in the future: just real ale drinkers or all beer drinkers? Should cider and perry be included? Should all pub goers be represented regardless of their chosen drink? Or even all alcohol drinkers regardless of where they drink it?
As you can see, depending on the answer the Campaign could become something very different.
I haven’t yet full formulated my thoughts and don’t want to complete the survey until I have. I do have some initial thoughts, however, but to prevent this post getting too long I will save them for Part II, which I will publish tomorrow.
Meanwhile, if you want to know more about the Revitalisation Project check it out on the CAMRA Website
There are also a lot of better blogs than mine on the subject – I’d recommend starting with Boak & Bailey, especially as they helpfully provide links to a whole load more.
If you want to know more about the history of CAMRA and the British beer scene in general, I would also heartily recommend Jessica Boak & Ray Bailey’s book – Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer