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13-08-2016, 14:13
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Well, here are the results of my poll on whether CAMRA should formally embrace non-real “craft” beers. There’s a clear majority against of almost 2:1, which has remained fairly constant throughout the period the poll has run.
https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-F4LjyfgFpsg/V68ajcTg-ZI/AAAAAAAAFBg/-mmldPjVdbQyIqTpfdoq2oyy6Qo6p-0hQCLcB/s1600/camra%2Bcraft%2Bpoll.jpg (https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-F4LjyfgFpsg/V68ajcTg-ZI/AAAAAAAAFBg/-mmldPjVdbQyIqTpfdoq2oyy6Qo6p-0hQCLcB/s1600/camra%2Bcraft%2Bpoll.jpg)
My personal view, which I have often expressed on here, is that CAMRA needs to abandon the view that cask is inherently superior to all other forms of beer, but that it is a Campaign for Real Ale, and that is what it should concentrate on. However, Real Ale should be promoted as a unique British tradition worth preserving and championing, not the acme of Good Beer worldwide. Next month’s Opening Times column will trenchantly put across this point of view.
One of the key problems with embracing non-real beers is where exactly do you draw the line. It all too easily can become a subjective exercise in beer snobbery. To be honest, I just can’t see it happening, and a lot of people who bang on about the need for CAMRA to abandon its principles reform are going to be disappointed.
It’s interesting that SIBA has recently launched a project to identify genuinely independent producers of craft beer (http://siba.co.uk/2016/08/independent-brewers-take-back-craft-beer/) in the UK, which has been dubbed “Craft Marque”. They’ve also produced an interactive map (http://www.indiecraftbrewers.co.uk/) of the member brewers. The objective is laudable, but I suspect it won’t really resonate with drinkers.
“Craft beer” means very different things to different people, but for many it represents innovation and cocking a snook at tradition. I can see many gibbing at the inclusion of brewers such as Arkells, Felinfoel, Black Sheep, Holts and Robinsons, even though they are entirely independent and come within the 200,000 hectolitre (122,000 barrels) annual production cut-off. Likewise some of our local microbreweries such as Coach House, Storm and Weetwood who mostly produce beers in traditional British styles.

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