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slogan - a threat!
This incident came to mind when I was chatting recently to staff in a local pub that had ten handpumps serving real ale, and I thought how a bank of six handpumps, which had seemed extraordinary more than 30 years ago, was quite unremarkable today. I said that many years ago I had been a student at a college near Warrington where our beer choices were confined almost exclusively to mild or bitter, either from Greenall Whitley or Tetley Walker, and that their pub now had a greater choice of real ales than the entire town of Warrington back then.
Unlike other facets of life, for real ale there is no Golden Age to look back upon nostalgically. Fifty years ago (before my drinking career began), breweries were switching to mass-produced keg beers and many were phasing out their real ales, which at that time were mostly just mild and bitter. CAMRA, founded in the 1970s in response to this trend, is generally recognised as having saved real ale in this country. While we regret the closure of many old pubs – sadly, quite a few locally (Southport and West Lancs area) - and the loss of some favourite old brews, for real ale drinkers the Good Old Days are now. We can help keep it that way simply by continuing to enjoy the great variety of British beers now readily available.
Did I manage to try all six beers in the Gales pub? Of course. And for the record, the real ale scene in Warrington is much better nowadays.
This is one of a series of articles that I write for the CAMRA column in our local papers, the Southport Visiter and Ormskirk Advertiser. Some previous articles are here.