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Thread: The relationship between CAMRA and publicans

  1. #1
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    Default The relationship between CAMRA and publicans

    Following on from the Rhydspence discussion I was lead here by another pub review website.

    It's an odd sort of relationship really. Without taking sides in this little tiff it must not be uncommon. Publicans are not going to turn down a listing in the GBG, let alone winning a regional or national award. It means more customers, sometimes lots more. However they're rather less keen on being told how to run their businesses which is how, I'm afraid, CAMRA often comes across.

    I like the CRAPO idea.

  2. #2
    Old & Bitter oldboots's Avatar
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    Yes a fairly typical attitude from a licensee, pretty much all of them think CAMRA are a bunch of tossers, useful enough for free publicity or taking money off when they drink that beer that's a pain in the arse to look after, what's wrong with a decent consistent beer that you plug in and forget about anyway? No messing about just take delivery, plug it in, sell it, bank the proceeds. Of course Licensees are always convinced they know what's what in spite of the fact that 30 of them go bust every week, still CAMRA hasn't run any pubs for 30 years now so they know bugger all.

    At least CAMRA bashing is the current fashion, everyone says its time has past, craft keg is the coming thing, doing anything about pub closures shouldn't happen except perhaps by bands of dedicated locals, waste of space since you get real ale everywhere, blah blah blah.

    Well don't worry, once JDW pull the rug on the voucher scheme membership will plummet, the tiny percentage of active members will die out and everything will come good again just like in the Sixties when nobody bothered about shite beer - they just drank bottled beer and the nice new keg beers and lagers instead, nobody except a bunch of mad, socially inadequete, bearded, greater bellied, sandal wearing hobbits. If only they hadn't bothered, we'd have all been better off, just like the rest of the world where they don't have this bollocks.

    Good riddance I say, nobody needs some bunch of know it all tossers telling pubco mugs how to run their business while it lasts or moaning about pints that are actually half litres or whinging about crap pubs shutting, and it's only crap pubs that shut, or putting on their bloody awful beer festivals where you can't get a seat or a decent cold pint of Carling just that beer with twigs in.

    It's a drinking club for a load of old blokes who know nowt and they should mind their own business and drink what everyone else does in the kind of pubs real landlords run. Perhaps then publicans can get shot of pongy beer with bits in and get on with making money, 'cos running a pub's just a business after all.

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  3. #3
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    oldboots, if it is not rude to ask, what is your relationship with CAMRA (genuine question, not having a poke)?

    I don't know enough about it, but my feeling from the little I do know is that CAMRA is actually becoming a victim of its success. Real Ale is experiencing a real rejuvenation and whilst there is a ways to go I don't think it has a need to feel threatened at the moment. I think that maybe they are just taking on various issues that they think (rightly or wrongly) they should address, and I think that sometimes these issues are in conflict.

    To take that page as an example, the first issue mentioned is a corker, it is good that Tesco are promoting a well marketed RA like Brewdog and ties in with the whole original point of CAMRA, but they are now evolving to the point where they are trying to help pubs and you can see a pubs frustration when CAMRA then goes and promotes a supermarket. I just think that they need to sort out what their mission is focus on it and act on it in a positive manner.

    At times they are inevitably going to be in conflict with licensees and there are certainly licensees out there who need a wake up call, so I think the sort of thing that Ed talks about in his latest blog is very sensible so that publicans can have their own voice.

    My frustrations with the Good Beer Guide can be summed up through this thread. I would love for this site to promote the Good Beer Guide, and my personal belief is that it would help sell copies of the GBG, sadly I am not willing to risk litigation and they are refusing to return my calls so to speak.

    This article is an interesting read and alludes to my peeve with CAMRA, they seem to go towards negative tactics too easily, so taking the recent themes:

    • I would rather they were open about the GBG and allowed us to show GBG listings, I think it would help the books sales and help the listed pubs sales, and is a positive strategy.
    • With the Rhydspence Inn, why not send out a letter saying "Try the Rhydspence Inn, and if it is a pub you would like to drink at again object to the planning application for fear you lose the opportunity". Hopefully it would generate traffic for the pub and still achieves the aim of sending planning letters. Again this is what I think is a positive strategy.


    To be clear this is all just my fairly uneducated opinion, and long time CAMRA members will be able to offer far more intelligent answers I hope.

  4. #4
    In Search of Ebriety Millay's Avatar
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    This article sounds like a bitter rant to me, from someone who is put out by not being shortlisted for National PotY, despite having been awarded the local PotY for a number of years. CAMRA's main aim is surely to campaign for a wider availability of quality real ale, wherever that may be, not to save failing pub businesses. However if their research tells them that a high proportion of pub closures are those that would fall under the, poorly thought out, CRAPO banner then surely it's only right that they should try to protect those pubs. This does however have to be a side issue and not their primary focus which should remain real ale.

    By defining CRAPO as an organisation which would seek out "proper pubs selling hand crafted brews with old fashioned sets of values where people meet and talk and pass the time of dayover a draught of good ale" the writer shows the sort of blinkered attitude that so many have nowadays that the only good pubs are the ones that they like. If there were to be a shiny new bar in a busy shopping centre, with loud music, frequented by the 18-30 crowd, showing daytime TV instead of racing from Wincanton and having video games instead of a dartboard or pool table, BUT they had a bank of 4 ever changing real ales in top condition then CAMRA would support it because CAMRA has no particular axe to grind when it comes to pubs. CRAPO on the other hand would not support it as it does not fufil the narrow ideals of the writers perfect pub. CRAPO name, CRAPO idea.
    I've just joined Alcoholics Anonymous - I still drink, just under a different name.

  5. #5
    Roving RAT ROBCamra's Avatar
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    If you want reasoned answers then don't come to me.

    This landlord is simply being a complete tw*t.

    Unless he personally knows all 545 members of his local CAMRA how does he know only 6 use the pub. Lots of us don't advertise the fact.

    If you don't want to be in the GBG, just say so, it's no problem, you will be removed, although your takings will go down.

    A landlord going to another pub !!!!!!! You're having a laugh. Most landlords never leave the joint even on their nights off. Especially not to visit a local rival where they actually have to pay for their beer.

    They then moan that other landlords don't visit THEIR pub.

    Pub landlords are a bunch of moaning b*stards even when they're doing well from the trade.
    A pub is for life not just for Christmas

  6. #6
    Old & Bitter oldboots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Millay View Post
    CAMRA's main aim is surely to campaign for a wider availability of quality real ale, wherever that may be, not to save failing pub businesses. However if their research tells them that a high proportion of pub closures are those that would fall under the, poorly thought out, CRAPO banner then surely it's only right that they should try to protect those pubs. This does however have to be a side issue and not their primary focus which should remain real ale.
    The CAMRA hobbits interfere in pubs because no pubs = no real ale.

    In a free market how beer is treated and sold in the pub is only for the landlord to decide, and how the business is disposed of when it fails or a better opportunity comes along is up to the owner alone. Incidentally they shouldn't be interfering in brewery business either, what goes into beer and how it's made is a matter for the head brewer. It really is no concern of the punters and most of them don't care anyway. The customers have the choice; drink this here and if you don't like it then drink that there. Real Ale is a tiny niche market and will probably slowly wither away once CAMRA dies out.

    The last thing needed is another organisation of interfering tw4ts who know nothing, but then CRAPO hasn't got a chance of starting, they'd never find anyone to run the thing, after all CAMRA can hardly find anyone to operate their local covens or whatever a meeting of hobbits is called.
    Last edited by oldboots; 11-02-2011 at 08:48.

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  7. #7
    Humble Wordsmith ETA's Avatar
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    CAMRA's biggest problem is its size and the fact that it now has allowed a large parasitic HQ with a lot of politically motivated individuals to set quotas, direct unpopular campaigns and drain funds from the branches rather than concentrate on supporting branch activity and trying to achieve consistency across the Country.

    I agree with the point that if a quota of 17 pubs is given, and only two exceptional pubs are there, you will get 15 average pubs in the GBG. I've seen this in many areas on my travels, whereas I've also seen excellent pubs omitted becasue the quota is too small. Ommissions also occur because landlrods fall out with branch members, or branches simply don't get to all the pubs in their area. I accept that where an area is geographically large (eg Highlands) it may not be possible for a quorum of branch members to visit each pub every year, but there are ways of mitigating this - Highland Branch does so by actively encouraging visiting members from other branches to comment on and score pubs, for example. (I should say I'm not a Highland Branch member but have helped out in this way).

    However, despite its faults, let's keep CAMRA in perspective - it is a volunteer organisation which has an interest in pubs and beer and does do a lot of good in some areas - running festivals, providing a nationwide network of strangers to meet for a beer, being another set of people to meet outside work, being a source of information about pub and beer related issues, and so on. It doesn't write the rules, and publicans are free to pick and choose how much support they give, and how much advice they heed. As for the JDW discount scheme, I'm all for it as it ensures I recover my membership each year without even going near a beer festival.

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    We're not really 'ere! trainman's Avatar
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    I often feel guilty about never having been a CAMRA member as we ought to be grateful for its significant contribution to pretty well saving real ale from the dark days of the 70s. No reason, either, not to be a member because, as has been pointed out, the spoons vouchers pay back the membership fee. The organisation may have some skewed areas of focus (full pint club...) but its activities, generally, must surely be beneficial for beer drinkers.

    I couldn't find the current shortlist for national poty, any ideas?

    Royal Oak Rusper was listed in final 4 a couple of years back, along with KIT, Stockport Crown, and Spreyton's Tom Cobley, the latter of which escaped a tm visit due to closure for a staff jamboree the very weekend I was down that way, most frustrating but I suppose 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

  9. #9
    Official PG MILD tester Soup Dragon's Avatar
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    I am in CAMRA, but don't get chance to take an active part and i am not really sure i would want to.

    I think there are a lot of good people in it, but also some not so good, as with any other organisation! There are issues i have about GBG inclusions - Spoons, well, one in 3 pints are decent, 1 in three pure sh**, yet they get in because the beer is cheap and the members likely go there more often, i guess. I never use the JDW vouchers - i just want to contribute to help those that do do something in CAMRA.

    I would take a review written here by any of the regulars more seriously than a CAMRA review in their magazine. Ale Monster's reviews (he doesnt post on forum) are so good, i already know where i will sit when i go in a place!
    MILD:

  10. #10
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    Ok, this blogpost is doing the rounds on twitter.

    Whilst I was reading it I was tempted to chuck it in one of our other threads because I felt the first half of the post with the letter was hilarious, what an outrageous letter and the quoting of CAMRA is superfluous and nothing to do with why I find it so funny.

    The second half however is a reasoned complaint about CAMRA directly rather than the stupid letter and raises some more points that are interesting. Something we haven't touched on is that CAMRA in some ways is stifling beers evolution in this country. I suppose arguably fair enough given it is about Real Ale but I was lucky enough to try a pint of Brooklyn lager a couple months back and it was a real eye opener, a lovely pint that showed how a lager could be interesting. Just because it is a lager though it would be frowned upon by many.

    It would certainly seem oldboots is right and CAMRA bashing is in danger of becoming a sport, sadly I find myself frequently agreeing with the bashes though.

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