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08-07-2011, 16:41
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As a means of combating climate change, CAMRA’s “Locale” campaign is nonsense. But as a way of encouraging local character and distinctiveness it has much to be said for it. The UK has a huge variety of local cask beers, and a tourist expecting a taste of the area should have a reasonable expectation of finding one on venturing into a pub.

But, hang on, I walk into an attractive half-timbered pub in a popular tourist town somewhere vaguely South-West of Birmingham. And the beer choice is: Bombardier and Theakstons Best. Two beers often decried as bland, and which have no connection with the area. It might be understandable if these were beers such as Draught Bass and Pedigree that had a long history of being distributed in the area, but they weren’t.

The Severn Valley has a wealth of respected micro-breweries such as Wye Valley, Hobsons and Salopian. Why couldn’t they serve one of those? It is noticeable that the popular Stockport multi-beer pubs, the Crown and Magnet, both make a big point of featuring local beers as well as those from further afield.

I went in another pub that made a proud proclamation that all its cask beers were sourced within 35 miles. I might substitute “all but one” to include the likes of Draught Bass, but as a tourist and business traveller within the UK I would applaud that principle. You don’t go to Scotland to drink Tetley Bitter and Old Speckled Hen, both of which I encountered as the sole cask beer in a pub last year.

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