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01-04-2012, 07:34
Visit the Tandleman's Beer Blog site (http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/missed-opportunity.html)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aLePzy7_b-A/T3dC1ajgvII/AAAAAAAADKc/CbEbh3ccH6M/s320/bestfoot.png (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aLePzy7_b-A/T3dC1ajgvII/AAAAAAAADKc/CbEbh3ccH6M/s1600/bestfoot.png)I promised I'd let you know the outcome of the small group CAMRA set up to look at craft beer. I am not sure that I'm meant to, but since the groups existence is in the public domain, I don't see why its outcomes shouldn't be. It was all done in a bit of a hurry, but taken very seriously by the participants. We corresponded a lot, exchanged views, read a lot of stuff including a lot of blogger articles and comments, which I contributed - mine and others - and met to decide what we wanted to put to the National Executive. There was no disagreement from any of the Working Party about the final proposals. We set the background by setting out principles behind the recommendations, These included:

*The group agreed that the wider spread use of “craft beer” and “craft-keg” created danger
of confusion in the minds of consumers and as a result could devalue CAMRA's definition
of real ale and the campaigning power behind it.

* That CAMRA’s primary campaigning aim is and should remain the
protection and preservation of real ale, by our definition, and we should be unashamed of
continuing to state that the Campaign believes real ale, produced, kept and served in the
right way, continues to be the best way of presenting British beer and our key aim should
be the promotion and support of those who make it and the places which serve it.

*However, the group agreed that it is important CAMRA reaffirms the intentions of its
founding principles. CAMRA was established to promote choice for drinkers at a time
when choice on the bar was under threat.

*As such, the CAMRA should remind members that it is a positive campaign for
something, not against things which are not real ale.

*In this, CAMRA should be open to the concept that good beer does exist which is not real

*This does not mean CAMRA needs accept non-real ale at festivals, nor directly campaign
for or support non-real ale producers.

*CAMRA can however throw its weight behind generic promotions of beer drinking and
pub going which are not limited solely to real ale or real ale serving pubs.

Our recommendations were:

1. While not changing our primary campaigning position, CAMRA officially
recognises that good beers exist which are not real ale

2. CAMRA, in association with SIBA, attempts to write a definition of “craft beer”
to help prevent further confusion and abuse of the term – the group feels this
definition does not need to be a tight, technical specification, but a broad
“qualitative” definition

3. That the value of positive campaigning is reinforced and encouraged throughout
the campaign

4. An audit of all CAMRA publications and websites, both nationally and at branch
level are audited for negative rhetoric and this is removed

5. The group drafts three “holding” motions which the NE can amend or withdraw
once it has considered this report and the motions themselves

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Oexf07V6ViE/T3c9wop5K9I/AAAAAAAADKU/D68fr5yVPhE/s400/showof+hands.jpg (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Oexf07V6ViE/T3c9wop5K9I/AAAAAAAADKU/D68fr5yVPhE/s1600/showof+hands.jpg)
Unfortunately the National Executive did not agree with our group's proposals and only passed the third recommendation. All others were rejected after discussion, which is, to say the least, disappointing. (You can forget the last one, which was entirely dependent on the approval of the first four and was for CAMRA AGM use.)

So. It seems there is a long way to go it in moving the current NE round to thinking differently about the Campaign. Things might change next year of course, when motions on the subject are more likely to be put straight to the AGM by individual members, given that an internal approach has failed to achieve change. As Ian Fozard said of 40 year old CAMRA in this month's "What's Brewing": "Imagine if in 40 years time we’re still campaigning for real ale as currently defined and deriding other beer styles?" I for one think this was a missed opportunity, but it is only a matter of time. Yesterday's thinking is already doomed to the past where it belongs. No-one wants to see the real ale baby thrown out with the bathwater* and there are plenty of us that will fight to ensure that doesn't happen. There really is nothing to fear in sensible recognition of changed times and moving with these changed times, while still strongly campaigning for real ale and for the pubs we drink it in.

I said in this post here (http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/vision-and-courage-required.html)that leadership needs courage. It also needs vision. This was small stuff really. An acknowledgement that a minor change, a couple of points of clarification and a return to our original value of promoting choice, would be a nod to the changes happening around us. It would have been a modernising influence, while still firmly maintaining our commitment to real ale. It wasn't that big a step surely?

Let's hope the two progressive motions that I mentioned here (http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/vision-and-courage-required.html) will pass today. I'll be checking Tom Stainer's twitter feed of proceedings. *I apologise for the odd cliché in this article. I usually avoid them like the plague.https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/8629758183547510158-3035910416581164155?l=tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.c om

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