April 2023.

I’d volunteered to help CAMRA set up the Members Weekend in Sheffield. If ever I was going to help out, I guess it was this week, with it on the doorstep, in the venue where James had his graduation ceremony a year ago.

Look !

There’s a What Pub entry for the weekend’s Members Bar. I bet Duncan and Simon don’t get to tick that. It might even get in the GBG if time travel is invented. That Connoisseur’s Brewery Tap in St Helen was open fewer hours in 2020.

I volunteered for “general set-up” and “leaflet stuffing”, both of which are more interesting tasks than I had in my first year in the NHS (and possibly my last).

The room earmarked for the sipping of artisanal brews had recently had even more noble purposes.

There must have been a good two dozen volunteers on the Wednesday, all of them chatty and cheery despite coming from Rotherham.

I silently prayed that I wouldn’t be asked to do anything on the actual bar, like tapping and spiling, adding Brasso to the beer, or installing the Autovac.

Ooh, an actual antique CAMRA handpump.

I wouldn’t even have known which end goes in the barrel.

Luckily, I can stuff bags with bits of papers (accounts, handbooks and adverts for Shrewsbury Beer Festival). I’m sorry if you didn’t get a bag with a 50p voucher off Doom Bar; I only had 32,000 to give away.

And, joy of joys, there were bits of discarded paper from previous events to entertain us.

Now that look like the shopping list for the Shrewsbury Beer Festival after party to me.

20 thoughts on “VOLUNTEERING

  1. I was expecting a fringe event, how to tick the GBG, at least 🙂 I might have gone to that, instead of spending the weekend wondering why on earth Id bothered turning up, oh yes Sheffield pubs to visit, maybe if Id done more of that, than sitting listening to alot of interminable debates, Id have enjoyed the weekend abit more.

    have no fear the members bar wont be appearing in any edition of the GBG, with or without opening hours, which were wrong anyway, sorry thats partly an in joke from the exciting motions we debated in the Octagon, whether theyd got the cooling setup wrong or hadnt sterilised the taps, it was very hot in that room, the beer was quickly turning by the Saturday and positively funky by the Sunday, which even with discounting to clear, wasnt encouraging me to drink any more there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I’d attended the opening hours debate, which is a worthwhile debate in its own right as the issue of how pubs communicate with customers is worthwhile. But I was drinking Bass in Sevenoaks.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. John of Manchester branch noted a few complaints he’d heard about beer temperature on Discourse after the event, and said members should be aware of the constraints of serving beer in a temporary bar. John is absolutely right, though of course it invites the question of whether CAMRA should bother running beer festivals if they can’t serve beer that’s better than the pubs.

      That said, I thought the beer temperature was fine Friday and Saturday lunchtime, it was just a bit thin. Th Elland 1872 Porter was good.


      1. You could easily have poached an egg in the beer on Friday night. Very poor. I didn’t go on Saturday, but by Sunday, it was pretty good overall.

        Thanks for all the stuffing!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interesting. I’d have thought you and me had similar preferences for cool beer (11 at a guess) and I don’t recall it being notably warm on the Friday, though to be honest I possibly wasn’t paying much attention.

        I think members would have been served by walking 5 minutes to the University Arms, 10 to the Bath or Fagans, or 20 to the Blake, but I guess CAMRA members aren’t quite as quality obsessed as I am, it’s more about the social angle.


      3. the Elland porter iirc was handpump on the bar, and I felt the handpump beers were noticeably cooler (and tasted much better) than the straight from cask beers, I skipped the porter though tbf because the abv always gives me pause for thought and I always think well it will turn up at a beer festival somewhere if i need it.

        but fwiw I did decide the members bar wasnt where the best beer was, and it wasnt that sociable, and branched out to the University arms & Fagans (they had bass on) amongst others.


    3. “Sitting listening to a lot of interminable debates?” This was my conclusion, following the 2013 CAMRA AGM in Norwich, and the reason I have not attended any further AGM’s since then.

      I’d have a job now though, as I resigned as a member, in December 2019, and I can’t say I that I miss CAMRA.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We used the University Arms at lunchtimes, and I was impressed. Fantastic cheesy chips!! Enjoyed the Bath on a couple of visits and like the Red Deer and the new Vocation place – and the Sheffield Tap too – even though they gave me a bum steer on a Brewsmith beer, assuring me it was meant to be cloudy, even though I know it isn’t. Nearly called the brewer who is a pal, but decided not too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The voluntary sector has shrunk by 48% over and since covid, I read.

    Since many people need more than one job just to make ends meet these days there’s little surprise there.


  3. I was taught a fine lesson by my late dad, dating from his Army days. Never volunteer for something you might be able to do. Always volunteer for something you definitely can’t do. He volunteered for Airborne Division, knowing they wouldn’t take him because he was horrendously short sighted. By some mistake, he got paid a shilling a day extra.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. (I’m more likely to buy Martin a pint of Titanic Plum Porter than volunteer at the Camra members weekend.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’ll be a more interesting job next April with a Beano and a small jar of marmalade for each bag.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Don’t you remember four years ago, free marmalade for every attendee. No need to volunteer.
        I wasn’t serious about the Beano.

        Liked by 1 person

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