Friday, 29 July 2011

Move aside CAMRA

It's dangerous to begin reading too many beer blogs - I try to keep my intake to around four units a day - because you sometimes read some outrageous rubbish that you feel you have to respond to, but then a quiet voice at the back of my mind will say, "Leave them, Nev, they're not worth it!"  Mind you, I don't always take notice.

My friend Tandleman wrote a cheery post that it's the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) next week and let's all have a good time (you can read what he wrote here).  A simple enough suggestion, you'd think, but no:  controversy raged in the comments below his post that CAMRA was stifling innovation in the beer world, that the Campaign should embrace "alternative methods of dispense" (a euphemism for keg), and whether the withdrawal of egomaniac Scottish brewery Brewdog from the GBBF was CAMRA's fault or the brewery's.  Who cares?  As I wrote myself, some beer bloggers certainly know how to party!

I've written about Brewdog and the craft keg debate before, but there was a novelty in this selection of rantings:  Tandleman pointed out a bizarre suggestion that "the GBBF is outgrowing CAMRA & their approach. Is it time someone else organised this countries [sic] flagship beer festival? I think so."  Tandleman wiped the floor with that stupid comment, pointing out that the GBBF is CAMRA's, not the country's, and it would be difficult for anyone else to organise a festival on such a scale without the army of volunteers that CAMRA can call on - he said a lot more, but you can click on the link above if you'd like to read it.

Another stupid comment was that as it's the Great British BEER Festival, CAMRA should not be selling ciders and perries, and as CAMRA promotes real ale, there should be no continental beers.  Well, as it happens, I was outraged the other week when I went into a café and discovered as well as coffee, they also served tea.  Even more damning, they even sold food.  Don't they know the word café means coffee?

In case anyone thinks there is a sensible point to be answered here:
  • CAMRA has since its early days supported real ciders and perries because they are traditional British drinks which have been even more at risk than real ale.  I expect the reason why they're not included in the name CAMRA is because CAMRACAP is a bit of a mouthful, but they are clearly written into in CAMRA's aims.
  • Continental beers, although they often do not conform to CAMRA's definition for British beers, are served at CAMRA festivals in a manner appropriate to their own traditions.  After all, that's all CAMRA wants for British beer:  that it be served in accordance with our beer traditions.  It is not inconsistent to respect other traditional styles.
As for all those who say CAMRA should do this, or shouldn't do that (usually not members), they misunderstand what CAMRA is:  a campaign whose policies are decided by its members, and not by certain embittered beer bloggers, of whom a few admit they rarely or never go to pubs, preferring to sup their supermarket selections of bottled beers in their own living room.  I have no problem with people enjoying a beer at home, but when that's all you do, you've reduced beer to a private pleasure, like eating a box of chocolates while watching TV.  To me, beer is not an end in itself, but is a part of my social life - quite a big part, I'd agree, but a part nonetheless.  I rarely drink beer at home.

Most beer bloggers are fine; I enjoy reading what they write, and I sometimes chuck in my own two penn'orth.  Disagreements can be fine too.  I suppose that some of the simmering rage that occasionally shows among a noisy, aggressive minority is because they know that, whatever they blog about, it won't make the slightest bit of difference to CAMRA, or the world of beer in general.  Having spent years involved in a trade union and a political party, I've learnt to accept that it's no good merely ranting about how things should be.  Either you get involved to try to change things, or you don't bore others with your impotent frustrations - in other words, put up or shut up.  Besides, don't you know that beer's supposed to be fun?

Blogs can be interesting, and there are quite a few links on the right to a variety of blogs:  the Pub Curmudgeon has three categories of blogs among his links, one of which is headed:  Beer and pub blogs (may contain nuts).  And yes, that's where he's put me!

I'm not going to the GBBF this year, but if you are, I hope you enjoy yourself - and just ignore the nitpickers and hair splitters, but if they're at home supping their bottles, I don't suppose you'll come across them.  Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. I've just done a bit of googling about this, and brewdog come off as complete and utter wankers. I knew nothing about the debate before. I've enjoyed Brewdog beer. I don't have any objections to them kegging it if they think they can produce good beer that way. But I've now visited their website, and seen how they've used pictures of hard working pub owners to make "old fashioned pubs" look stuffy and rubbish, while juxtaposing real pubs with their trendy cool super bars (stripped of personality and, apparently, of all furnishings, allowing only strange steel dystopian look in some kind of nod to Blade Runner).

    Incidentally, aside from their objectionable and twattish manner (geeks pretending to be punks, methinks), I'm a little concerned that they've confused "exciting" and "flavour" with "hoppy". I brew myself (obviously not on a commercial scale), and hops aren't the only aspect to a rounded and tasty beer, guys.


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