But Cookie raises an interesting point on Tandleman’s blog as to what CAMRA members did before the multi-beer pub was invented, and indeed nails this type of pub pretty accurately:
Before CAMRA there were pubs. Some were posh and some were dumps. I gather you knew what to expect a short while after entering.
At what point did the "CAMRA pub" become a recognised type of pub? You know lots of hand pumps, Vedett beer signs, Paulaner coasters, Middle class berghaus fleece wearing public sector employee bearded punters. It could not of been early doors in the 70's. Was it an 80's or 90's thing? When CAMRA types decided to shun the pubs of regular folk and sit in their own inauthentic but safe beer enthusiast theme pubs?
In my recollection, the CAMRA members then just tended to drink in the “normal” pubs, although they favoured certain pubs over others on the grounds of:
(a) Owned by “favoured” breweries, i.e. Holts rather than GreenallsSo let’s go back to 1983 and see what featured in the Good Beer Guide for Stockport – a time when I had never set foot in any pub in the town:
(b) Reputation for keeping their beer well, and
(c) Generally “traditional” atmosphere
- Arden Arms (Robinson’s) – still open, in 2013 GBG
- Armoury (Robinson’s) – still open, in 2013 GBG
- Blossoms (Robinson’s) – still open, now an “Ale Shrine”
- Castlewood (Wilson’s) – long since closed
- Crown (Boddington’s) – still open, in 2013 GBG as a multi-beer freehouse
- George (Higson’s) – reopened 2012 after a period of closure
- Old King (Bass) – recently demolished after being closed for a few years
- Swan with Two Necks (Robinson’s) - still open, in 2013 GBG
Between them, those nine pubs are listed as offering twelve different beers – Bass XXXX Mild, Cask Bitter and Draught Bass, Boddington’s Best Mild and Bitter, Higson’s Mild and Bitter, Robinson’s Best Mild, Best Bitter and Old Tom, and Wilson’s Mild and Bitter. You could probably now find more different beers on the bar of the Crown, Magnet or Railway, although fewer milds. From the perspective of 2013, it’s an eye-opener that a pub such as the Old King, with Bass XXXX Mild and Cask Bitter (the successor to Brew Ten) on electric pumps, could even be considered for the GBG, but so it was.
Obviously now there is hugely more choice overall, but the enthusiasts tend to confine themselves fairly strictly to the likes of the aforementioned Crown, Magnet and Railway. Whereas before an evening out would consist of sampling various beers in a selection of pubs, now it tends to be more a case of drinking your way along the bar. I can’t help feeling that something has been lost, with the middle-class beer enthusiasts retreating into the niche of the specialist pub and no longer engaging with the generality of the pub trade.