I’m up in Stockport tomorrow for City’s New Year’s Day match (moved by Sky to the 2nd of course).

While there I hope to catch up with two US visitors who I’m sure will be delighted with the reading matter I’ve collected for their return train trip to Euston.  There’s even an Imbiber in that pile if they want to get to sleep by counting how many new beers Brodies have released.

Alongside the Good Beer Guide, and the group ordering halves of Unicorn at Christmas,  newsletters are one of the most recognisable products of CAMRA. I’m a big fan; it looks much less suspicious to be seen reading one in a pub than, say, “Moby Dick“.

Talking of Robinsons Brewery,

Hopefully Dick & Dave will have been able to pick up a recent copy of Opening Times,  still my own favourite newsletter.  That might just reflect my own pub preferences, but OT does seem to me a model of good, concise writing and broad coverage of the branch pubs.  Some of the regular contributors have some dodgy views, mind.

In 2016 I visited all the English and Welsh branch areas at least once, and managed to pick up a newsletter in practically each of them, which is impressive.

A few comments;

  1. Respect due to all CAMRA volunteers for getting a magazine out at all.
  2. Good to see some new newsletters starting up in places like South-east Wales.
  3. Quite a lot of empty newsletter holders spotted; visiting pubs to refill them a thankless task for  volunteers.
  4. Less is often more – Ullage in West Berks fits the essentials into 12 pages.
  5. Conversely, a few read more like Imbiber these days, with page upon page listing local brewery new and one-off beers, though that’s a personal bug-bear.
  6. Most branches have got newsletters on-line these days, which is a step forward.
  7. In general, a real reluctance to talk about quality, let alone NBSS scores. I can see why branches wouldn’t want to upset licensees though.
  8. And conversely, an enduring obsession with hand-pump count.
  9. I know HQ have reservations, but I love the holiday reports in Last Orders from Lichfield/Sutton/Tamworth, my second favourite read.
  10. Ale Cry – defenders of the faith.

By the way, there is one that I’ve always found unreadable gush.  The Branch concerned carried out a consultation this year, to which I responded, so I look forward to seeing the results in 2017.

Thanks to all Newsletter editors for such great and unheralded work in 2016.

23 thoughts on “CAMRA NEWSLETTERS

  1. Rest assured our American visitors got copies of the November and December issues of “Opening Times” in the Nursery on Wednesday night. They were very fulsome in their praise of it too 😀


  2. Who are these two Americans I keep reading about? Anyway, pleased they liked Opening Times – one of only two monthly CAMRA magazines (and these days I think they are more magazine than newsletter) in the UK (well three if you include What’s Brewing).

    As a CAMRA magazine editor of long standing I rarely, if ever, publicly criticise any of the others but I do know which one you mean in your closing comments. In the January OT there are two small (perhaps too small on reflection) pieces about the closure of Quantum Brewery and the saving of the Midland from demolition. The publication to which you refer would probably have devoted six or more gushing pages to each. It looked great but I do think the content was a bit out of kilter. The new version looks just as good but has a better balance of content.


    1. They’re a couple of guys from the Midwest called Dave and Dick Southworth who have been regular commenters on various blogs and are currently here on a week-long holiday to visit British pubs.

      I met up with them for a few drinks on Wednesday night in the Nursery and Hope, although unfortunately as I was feeling a bit under the weather had to pass on the curry afterwards.

      Depending on Martin’s travel plans we are hoping to arrange another meet some time tomorrow at which you will be more than welcome to attend if free.


      1. Late afternoon would work for me – just for a couple though as I’m off to the New Oxford later for their 10th birthday party. I’ll contact you nearer the time


  3. Martin, due to New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday, a full programme of fixtures is being played on the ‘artificial’ bank holiday. This allows a Saturday programme to take place. Of course, some games will kick off at stupid times on Monday to suit the television companies in their bid to wreck the game. It is a shame that we don’t get bank holiday Monday games in August and at Easter in the top division.


      1. Guilty as charged. Modern footballers are soft. There should be 46 league games in a season and all league cup matches should be double legged or the competition eradicated. There is nothing wrong with retired association footballers running public houses.


  4. We will be in Stockport all day on Saturday! All are welcome to meet up. Love your city and the area. Absolutely blown away by Manchester today. Looking forward to meeting up. Dick and Dave


  5. Why no mention of #LeedsCAMRA New Full Measure???? Surely more a glossy magazine than a newsletter! And there is an article on NBSS scores and how to submit in the winter edition, as well as a controversial piece about Marston’s! Available free in over 130 pubs across Leeds.


  6. We had an excellent crawl this afternoon covering the Boar’s Head, Baker’s Vaults, Sun & Castle, Red Bull (where we met local NBSS scores guru Peter Butler), Arden Arms and Railway. After previously encountering it in “diners only” mode, Dave and Dick saw the other side of the Arden Arms by being admitted into the inner sanctum of the snug behind the bar and having an uninhibited conversation with a friendly local drunk :p

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Nottingham drinker used to one of the best in the country and won awards,i always looked forward to reading it.
    It now has a new editor and is crap,my brothers son is a Camra member tried hunting down the new editor at the Nottingham beer festival with no luck,we think he has gone into hiding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing that has always left me gobsmacked about Nottingham Drinker is the way they give a platform to (a) the police and, even worse (b) the anti-drink lobby.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope not,
        I would like to think i am not as bad as py was on pub curmudgeons blog.
        I always think i speak the truth,but some get upset by it,probably why i got chucked off the Pubs Galore forum when i was the biggest contributor of reviews on the main site.


    2. Well, I used to always read the Nottm Drinker and I don’t now, so you’re probably right Alan. Ray Kirby listing all the beers and their exact prices was possibly a hard read ,but the maps showing all the pubs in a local town are/were good.


  8. Probably he says he has done over three quarters of Nottinghams pub,well i have done virtually all over the years and try to keep up to date with new openings,he thinks i dont know the city that well,well i do know it very well.
    Dont be sorry Martin,
    It is your blog so say what you want,i am now getting used to your sense of humour.


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