Interesting times for CAMRA with the recent changes to it’s articles. I’m not sure what to make of it. CAMRA was founded when real ale was struggling because it was kept poorly and people were turning to more reliable but crap creamflow beers. Times have changed and keg beer is in a very different place now- craft breweries are brewing some really good keg stuff. I’ve spoken to a number of craft brewers and keep getting the same story about the shelf life of cask and the difficulties of transportation and the greater risk you have to take as business to make cask. I understand that and anecdotally I see more good beer on draft and less creamflow and less Fosters. I know now of a number of local bars and brewery shops where I can reliably get a wide range of really good keg beer that I’m happy to drink without being overly concerned that those places don’t have cask.
All of which being said, I still struggle to entirely back the changes made by CAMRA. It comes down to two things for me, where do you draw the line as to what is good beer and what is CAMRA for. I understand that we are now in times where there is a variety of good beer and not all of it is cask. I just don’t know how we define that- how do we now say that CAMRA will support a great craft beer but not Fosters, if we say it’s beer not lager that CAMRA stands for, where does that leave a craft pilsner. It then opens up questions of what CAMRA is all about, the line was drawn that it would be about cask and not keg. I find it hard to come to terms with the idea that the Campaign for Real Ale could campaign for other beer. I’m not saying that cask is the be all and end all and the there shouldn’t be other beer but that doesn’t mean that CAMRA has to be the voice of it.
Maybe there is room out there for another organisation that stands for all beers- I think there should be representation somewhere to promote quality Belgian beers, really crisps pilsners and the fantastic range of craft beer that exists now. Perhaps that organisation could represent all pub goers and drinkers regardless of what they drink but for me CAMRA needs to support the cask beer that it was founded to promote.