In between dodging barflies in Sussex and posing tables in Leyland (report to follow) I attended the CAMRA revitalisation meeting in Didsbury on Wednesday. I was always going to attend to attend the event closest to Stockport to be fair; opinions are strongly held up here
and tickets for the bout were trading for £50 on the black market.
The function room in Wetherspoon’s Gateway is a good choice; a pubby building with a solid Beer Guide record. I’ve had some real ale that’s been wilting in the heat this week, the sort has cask ale drinkers in Cambridge village switching to lager and fizzy cider in the summer months.
The Gateway provided Hawkshead and Brightside beer at it’s cool best last night (NBSS 3/3.5), although it turned to soup in the heat of the debating chamber (literally, not metaphorically). Quite a lot of pale beer, mind you.
CAMRA are to be applauded for this open process which aims to review it’s core purpose, I guess prompted as much by a new Chief Executive as the threat/opportunity of “craft keg” or the realisation that the pool of volunteers is dwindling in inverse proportion to the increasing membership.
“Lively” discussions were introduced by Michael Hardman MBE and very professionally managed by CAMRA’s Ellie Hudspith, who must have had a former career in herding pub cats (not a comment on Pub Curmudgeon). My take-home points, perhaps reflecting my own bias, were;
- Campaigning for better and more consistent quality is the challenge
- We can do more to support breweries in producing a quality product
- If a pub offered good keg or poor cask, many folk would move on to the next pub
- Members benefits (largely the Spoons vouchers that kept beer below £2 a pint last night) are to be welcomed, and there’s strength in numbers
- Closure of pub reflects lots of societal changes, but cosying up to the anti-alcohol lobby will do us no favours (or anti-smoking lobby-Ed)
- The Good Beer Guide branch allocations urgently need revisiting
Even if, like myself, you don’t think there’s anything to fix, I’d recommend popping along to one of the events. Drinking beer in good pubs is always a good way to campaign.
This is my view from the Mitre Hotel, over the Shambles with the iconic Wellington and Sinclairs at their breakfast quietest. One of the most attractive areas in the country, but much more enticing if Sam Smiths would kindly put cask OBB back on. That’s a campaign worth fighting.