One of CAMRA’s most important principles is its independence, which is a necessity for any campaign. I was rather disturbed by a rumour that the Liverpool beer festival has succumbed to external pressure in order to receive sponsorship money.
The main sponsor of the Liverpool beer festival this year was Caledonian Deuchars IPA. This is in itself fine: most beer festivals need sponsors to survive, and in return CAMRA hopes the sponsors benefit from the publicity. Unfortunately Deuchars took this one stage further by demanding that, at the trade session for local licensees and brewers, there should be no other brewers admitted, and Liverpool CAMRA agreed. Liverpool boasts about its commitment to local brewers and has a separate bar for them at its festival but, as one CAMRA member said to me, “How can they support local breweries and then disown them because of some fat sponsorship deal with a national brewer? Made my blood boil!”
It’s not good when a beer festival allows one brewer to dictate to CAMRA whom it is allowed to invite to its own events. This is a serious error of judgement; let's hope it doesn’t set a precedent.