Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The two headed Beast

The Cask/Keg debate and CAMRAs position seems to have reared its head again, and oddly i find myself having changed position.

I used to be more in the CAMP that CAMRA needs to accept and promote the new-wave of quality Keg beers, but ive been persuaded that this maybe(and i will stress maybe) not be the right approach.

As it stands CAMRAs remit is to promote "Real Ale", Its not for CAMRA do
decide what is good and bad Real ale. Thats for the Market to decide

Its there to promote all "Real Ale".

Now, trying to widen that is tricky. We all know that there's no really accepted definition of "craft ale"

so what are we looking for CAMRA to now widen and promote. Good beer? who decided on what is good. Theyre not making that distinction in the "Real ale" world, so why should they be doing so in the non "real ale" world.

In fact if we want them to choose what to embrace as good beer in the non "real ale" world we would need for them to first Choose what is good beer in the "Real Ale" world, and im not sure i want them to go there.

CAMRA is a large membership organisation, and if your going to have the membership choose your probably going to get what appeals to the most people. So we will probably end up with a very middle of the road uninspired definition of whats considered good.

In my eyes at least, its far better that CAMRA promote all "Real Ale", allow the mass market to exist to appeal to the middle ground and allow all the extremes to exist catering to people like myself.

So if CAMRA were to widen theyre horizons,  they would find themselves having to promote all KEG beer, good and bad, effectively they would just be promoting all beer.

What matters to me is not what 'other' beers exist, what matters to me is that there is a good selection of beers i do want to drink, so someone producing fizzy lowest common denominator lager,  boring bland mainstream bitter, is all fine and well if they can find a market good on them. What i do care about is that i can find well made cask bitter, big hoppy imperial IPAs and rich deep mellow stouts. Its been said before CAMRA isnt against anything, its for something, and that thing is "Real Ale", all "Real Ale" regardless of what i think of it.  I think it does that well and that if it gets involved outside of that distinction, it may be dragged into deciding what is "good" and what is "bad" and i don't want some consumer group telling me what i should consider "good" or "bad"


  1. While I'm a "craft beer" lover and proponent amongst my friends - I'm in agreement that "craft beer" is impossible pin down with a definition. Thus difficult for CAMRA to form any kind of credible campaign around. "Cask ale" has a definition that works - even if there are some fuzzy boundaries (i.e. the issues raised in Dave Bailey's recent blog post.)

    I wonder if it is worth considering that CAMRA might promote the products of small UK breweries ("micros") in a general sense. I.e. "We support British micro-breweries"? We could promote any beer they produce as a "crafted" product created by a small local producer. Of course we then run into the issue of defining "micro" - but it is, I think, more possible to agree a clear-cut border here than with "craft beer".

    Anyway, I think the "craft beer" movement can stand on its own merits and doesn't need CAMRA - it's doing well enough it seems. To be honest I'm not sure "real ale" *needs* CAMRA any more either. ;)

    I think CAMRA's main focus should be pubs - the local still needs championing. Save the pub - or we won't have anywhere left to drink our real-ale! I don't care what people are drinking - so long as they're drinking it in their local. (Of course I'd prefer to see them drinking good beer, be it good real ale or good kegged beer... but I'd rather they have something awful like Greene King IPA, Fosters top or a WKD than stay home.)

  2. I just want GOOD BEER. I don't care how it's dispensed. I just want it how the brewers intended. Cask or keg is irrelevant. Nice.

  3. My point is not anything about Dispense method. While i dont like Fizzy beer ive had great Keg beer. Im not against Good keg beers.
    But my point is that its NOT CAMRAs place to promote these beers. Its about time people stopped getting all stroppy because the CAMpain for Real Ale doesnt promote beer that isnt Real Ale