Could this be the end of the Campaign for Real Ale?

Martyn Constable

of the Oakleaf Brewery
Martyn Constable of the Oakleaf Brewery
The Trafalgar pub in Gosport 
Picture: Google

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It’s the organisation that campaigns on behalf of beer lovers and local pubs across the region and fights for their rights.

But now the Campaign for Real Ale could be repackaged as a new group that better represents the pub industry today.

I don’t think Camra is looking enough at things like the craft beer market and beer dispense methods closely.

Camra member Martyn Constable

Local branch members say changes are needed – as the 45-year-old organisation has long championed traditional cask beer and not done enough to raise awareness of the huge variety of beer now on the market.

There’s also concern that despite having around 180,000 members, only a minority are out campaigning to get a fairer deal for publicans and punters.

Martyn Constable is a member of the Portsmouth and south-east Camra branch.

The group holds the annual Winterfest in Gosport and now holds a Portsmouth beer festival at the University of Portsmouth.

It also holds a pub of the year competition.

Martyn said: ‘It’s a difficult one. No-one will know for the next 18 months what will happen, that’s the real problem.

‘Camra is asking the membership what is and what isn’t working any more.

‘I don’t think Camra is looking enough at things like the craft beer market and beer dispense methods closely.

‘When Camra started, keg beer was just filled with far too much carbon dioxide, that’s not the case with craft beer.

‘Camra has got to sit down with its thinking hat on and ask the active membership which direction they want to go.’

Camra is consulting members over what it should represent in the future – and it may no longer be focused on real ale.

One of its four founders, Michael Hardman, is leading the Revitalisation Project – a wholesale review into the purpose and strategy of Camra.

Members of the organisation will be invited to share their views by completing surveys and attending around 50 consultation meetings this summer.

They’ll be asked whether Camra should move away from promoting and protecting traditional real ale and become more inclusive, or shed subsidiary issues which have become attached to the organisation over the years - such as pubs heritage, cider and foreign beer – in order to narrow its focus exclusively on cask-conditioned beer.

Options include becoming a consumer organisation for all beer drinkers, all pub goers or even all alcohol drinkers in general.

Mr Hardman said: ‘This could mark a fundamental turning point for the Campaign for Real Ale.’