There’s been a right old ding-dong over at Pete Brown’s blog over what he perceives as the culture of entitlement in CAMRA. In the comments, CAMRA stalwart Roger Protz made the rather smug statement that:
The reason why CAMRA has 112,000 members, has the ear of government and is listened to with respect by all serious beer lovers as well as politicians and law makers, is that we have the muscle of a strong, growing and influential consumer movement that has saved Britain's unique beer style.For a long time, this was broadly true, with little of interest taking place on the UK beer scene that fell outside the remit of CAMRA. But now things are changing with, for example, BrewDog having enjoyed great success which is mainly based on (non bottle-conditioned) bottled beers, and which owes relatively little to CAMRA. They’re even now talking about putting their beers in cans. We have a trade organisation for craft producers of British lagers. And more and more bars are putting high-quality imported beers (albeit keg) on draught – see my post about Pivo in York. CAMRA and “British beer enthusiasm” are becoming less and less synonymous by the day.
Campaigning for something can all too easily turn into campaigning against everything that doesn’t fit into that definition, resulting in a very blinkered view of the wider beer world. In particular, CAMRA has never really satisfactorily come to grips with the fact that other countries have different beer styles and traditions that fall well outside the concept of “real ale”. For me this was summed up many years ago by one individual dismissing a bottle of Kölsch – a classic German beer style and a top-fermenting one to boot – as “Europiss”.
I have to say, however, that amongst the various beer bloggers I have never encountered the dogmatic “four legs good, two legs bad” attitude that regrettably is still prevalent amongst many CAMRA members, including those in senior positions.
There’s more and more beer enthusiasm mushrooming outside CAMRA, and outside the range of what CAMRA officially approves of. If the organisation continues to plough the same hackneyed furrow it is going to look increasingly fuddy-duddy and out of touch. How can you energise a young person who likes drinking keg Duvel Green in a modern bar, and Punk IPA at home, if you’re telling her that these beers are unworthy of consideration?