Saturday, 18 May 2013

Not all members enjoy real ale admits CAMRA

I received my new CAMRA membership card today complete with the Wetherspoons vouchers that will no doubt rot away in a drawer for the next year. There was a letter from CAMRA thanking me for my support etc. but one paragraph caught my eye and I needed to read it again because I thought I must have mis-read it. I quote:

'We understand that not all members enjoy real ale (my capitals) but love real cider. We are continuing to work with JD Wetherspoon on this matter however all of their locations sell real cider. This could lead to confusion with Managers/Staff offering discounts on ciders such as Strongbow, Magners or some Westons products that do not fit with CAMRA's definition of real cider. We can only advise that in the interim you speak to the manager at your local JD Wetherspoon.'

I was astounded to read this. I thought that CAMRA existed to promote and protect real ale but I'm obviously wrong. My first thought was that the cider drinkers don't appreciate the voucher scheme then tough, they are in the wrong consumer group. However, on reflection what is more ridiculous that CAMRA happily accommodates members who don't like real ale, but when those who do suggest that CAMRA recognises craft beers which are a lot more similar to cask beer than any cider they are cast as traitors.


  1. I know one CAMRA member who will drink Strongbow in preference to cask beer if there's no real cider available in a pub.

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  3. Sorry, but I don't find either position ridiculous. Surely you knew that CAMRA has campaigned for real cider and perry as well as beer for many years, in which case it is quite likely that cider and perry drinkers who want to campaign to save their preferred drinks will join the only organisation that provides them with the opportunity to do so. Logically, some of them won't actually like beer; I have come across one or two in my time. Yes, the campaign has real ale in its name, but the Campaign for Real Ale, Cider and Perry would be a mouthful and produce the awkward acronym, CAMRACAP

    CAMRA doesn't cast as traitors people who like craft beers, as the AGM in Norwich made crystal clear last month. It was frequently said, including by the national Chair Colin Valentine, that CAMRA is for real ale, not against other drinks. Individual CAMRA members might have other views, but if they condemn other people's choices of drinks, they are not acting in accordance with CAMRA policy. They as individuals are being ridiculous, not the Campaign.

  4. Who's Matt?
    I joined CAMRA to campaign for real ale brewed from malt and hops not something from rotting apples. I don't like cider and am annoyed when I see punters at beer festivals search out the cider the bar because there isn't any lager. That's a ticket wasted in my view that could have gone to a beer drinker. Cider is a totally seperate drink to beer, just becasue it is sold in pubs and drunk in pints doesn't mean that CAMRA should spend its time promoting it while shunning a number of excellent beers because it is living in the past.

  5. Its no more the Campaign for Real Cider than it is the Campaign for Craft Keg.

  6. Matt - a typing error. I was thinking of two things at once.

    Sorry, PYO, wishful thinking can't change the facts. Like it or not, it has been official CAMRA policy to support real cider and perry for a long time; in fact, there is a cider and perry committee within CAMRA, so your assertion is completely wrong.

    I'm a beer drinker too, but it doesn't bother me that CAMRA also includes cider and perry in its remit. I'm not persuaded by the wasted ticket argument, as you pay on the door at most CAMRA festivals rather than buy tickets in advance, and most sessions are not usually sold out. I can't see how allowing cider and perry lovers to have their own niche within CAMRA gets in the way of campaigning for beer at all.

  7. The Campaign for Cider, Real Ale and Perry - CAMCRAP. Can't see it catching on.

  8. In fact CAMRA is more that. This year it is 25 years since the AGM voted to put campagning for real cider and perry on an equal footing with campaigning for real ale. Then about 10 or so years ago (I know 'cos I helped frame the motion) it voted to put campaigning for pubs on an equal footing with the rest. Thus CAMRA is in fact the Campaign for Real Ale, Cider, Perry and Pubs. How did you miss all of this?

    If you are just interested in real ale then that's fine. As has been pointed out there are those who joined to just campaign for cider and perry - that's fine as well. In fact there are one or two who don't drink much at all but are active in the pub and pub heritage field.

    Why the resentment - surely there's room for everyone. And if you begrudge seeing tokens going to cider drinkers why not come to Stockport at the end of the month where we have cash bars (one of which is a very large cider bar, though, but I'm sure you could avert your eyes as you hurry past.)

    Oh - and if he's talking about the person I think he is, Mudgie isn't quite right about the Strongbow. This individual's non-cider drink of choice is Irn Bru WKD.

  9. CAMRA: Mostly harmless :-)

  10. John, no I didn't know, and I sent two years as a branch chairman!It was difficult enough trying to get pubs in Wirral interested in cask beer never mind anythng else. Anyway, so here in 2013 I'll repeat that CAMRA embraces a product many steps removed from real ale, yet many of its members despise its close relation cask keg or whatever name you want to give it. Illogical, which is why the younger beer drinkers look on CAMRA as an irrelevant club for old people.

  11. I don't know, every time I look at the website it still says CAMRA and not CAMRCRAP (campaign for real cider, real ale and pubs), so my "assertion" clearly isn't wrong at all. You should check it out yourself and see what it says: www.camra.org.uk. See what I mean? It definitely says CAMRA.

    Bear in mind, I'm merely exposing the rampant hypocrisy of the utterly moronic "its the campaign for real ale not the campaign for craft beer huh huh huh" line that I've seen several commenters here use in the past. You can't have it both way I'm afraid. Does the name of the campaign define policy or not? Make up your damn minds. Either its real ale and nothing else or everything is fair game.

  12. There are even one or two cooking lager enthusiasts in the beard club and one day cheap supermarket lager will be on an equal footing with the pongy foul rot.

  13. Well Cookie, I'd far rather drink cooking lager than some of the foul nail polish remover they pass off as cider at some CAMRA festivals.

  14. I was a CAMRA member from the very early days for a very long time, but was diagnosed with coeliacs disease 8 years ago which meant I could no longer drink real ale because of the gluten, but I can drink cider and when CAMRA started backing real cider I rejoined.
    Try remembering back to the dark days of the 60/70's when real ale was scarce, and most pubs were only selling keg beers and lagers, well that is what it is like for people who can only drink cider in most pubs of today.
    There are over 30 pubs in the town that I live in, and only FOUR of them sell real cider, the rest sell freezing cold, gassy ciders like Strongbow.
    So before you all condemn people seeking out the cider bar at festivals, bear in mind that 1 in every 100 people in the world suffer from coeliacs disease and have a gluten intolerance, so they have no choice other than to seek out real cider.
    Personally, I would always choose real ale over cider if only I could, and I miss it greatly, but I just have to get on with it.