Thursday, 25 April 2013

CAMRA AGM ~ not just 'the beards club' after all

St Andrews Hall ~ AGM venue
I was at the CAMRA AGM in Norwich last weekend, which took place in the wonderful, if slightly overcrowded, old St Andrews Hall near the city centre. Most of the motions were routine and not especially controversial, but there were two issues that did get debate going: minimum pricing of alcohol and the craft keg issue.

Minimum pricing: the motion that CAMRA was on the wrong side in the minimum pricing debate was proposed by Peter Alexander and seconded by Graham Donning. Peter's main argument was that minimum pricing will not put a single extra bum on a pub seat, and thus was not relevant to CAMRA. He also pointed out that supporting minimum pricing made us unwilling allies of the anti-alcohol campaigners who are certainly no friends to beer drinkers. In his right of reply, Peter quoted a man who knows how to get people into pubs, Tim Martin, who has described minimum pricing as 'bollocks'. There was fierce opposition, both from the floor and from the leadership, but in the end the AGM voted to withdraw CAMRA's support for minimum pricing, a victory for common sense.

There were two motions on craft keg. The first stated that terms such as craft keg, craft beer, craft ale, etc, were meaningless and should not be used in CAMRA publications, local and national. If anyone felt they needed to use such terms, they had to put them in inverted commas and put the word sic after the term. My view of this is quite simple: dictating what words we can and cannot use is control freakery. I'm glad to say this motion was clearly rejected, as was a motion calling for CAMRA to run a campaign to educate CAMRA members and the public about the difference between real ale and what it termed "so-called craft", a dismissive description in three words. As part of the debate, Colin Valentine said several times that CAMRA is the Campaign FOR Real Ale, not the campaign against anything - including craft keg. This theme was taken up by other speakers in several debates.

I am very pleased that the Campaign has taken sensible decisions on two themes that I covered on this blog many times: not supporting minimum pricing and not taking a position of opposition to craft keg. This proves what I've always asserted: CAMRA is about choice, which means we have to accept it when people choose drinks that aren't real ale. My view is that our stance should be: "This real ale is good - why don't you try it?" and not: "Why are you drinking that rubbish?" People who write about 'zombeers' and 'chemical fizz', please note.

There are some great pubs in Norwich - I think I'll write about some of them them in a separate post.

6 comments:

  1. "My view is that our stance should be: "This real ale is good - why don't you try it?" and not: "Why are you drinking that rubbish?" People who write about 'zombeers' and 'chemical fizz', please note."

    CAMRA Central Lancs page has yet to comment on the rejection of the "craft keg" motions at the AGM. I await the Summer edition of Ale Cry with trepidation.

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  2. Your beard club saw sense and the reason for that is people like yourself & Tand. You are to be commended, well done. Nice to see you all making progress in making your beard club about a positive choice.

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  3. ML: actually, I'm looking forward the Summer edition of Ale Cry to see how they will square the circle of their own hostility to craft beer with very clear indications by the AGM that we are not collectively opposed to it.

    CL: cheers. Nice to know we're getting something right!

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  4. Actually what Tim said and I repeated was "Utter bollocks basically".

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  5. "ML: actually, I'm looking forward the Summer edition of Ale Cry to see how they will square the circle of their own hostility to craft beer with very clear indications by the AGM that we are not collectively opposed to it."

    Should be due out in June, I think. I look forward to the day I pick it up from the Spoons in Preston to read on my 1 hour bus journey to Lancaster. I will then laugh as I go to The Tap House and order a pint of BrewDog IPA.

    On the other hand, maybe all the active Central Lancs members will have resigned in disgust by then. I presume they will form their own suitable beer club. I'd suggest they name it something like "Beer Enthusiasts for the Removal of Keg".

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  6. With a logo of a dinosaur clutching a tankard?

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