Last orders for the Campaign for Real Ale?

The Campaign for Real Ale, one of the leading pressure groups in the British drinks trade, could be dissolved in response to what it calls a “hugely” changing beer and pub industry.

Camra was initial set up to campaign for better quality beer, but it has since become a voice for the pub industry and beer drinkers as a whole (Photo: Camra)

Camra was initial set up to campaign for better quality beer, but it has since become a voice for the pub industry and beer drinkers as a whole (Photo: Camra)

Camra is beginning a consultation process with its 177,000 members to decide the future direction of the organisation, admitting that it “could be coming to an end”.

Camra was established in 1971 in response to the growing presence in pubs of beer stored in metal casks, which many considered to be of poorer quality than the cask-conditioned ales that previously ruled the bar.

However, in recent years the group has taken charge of campaigning for fairer beer duty, greater support for Britain’s pubs and also promoting the UK cider industry. The boom in craft beer in the UK has also seen Camra’s remit expand drastically.

Members of the organisation will be invited to share their views on its future by completing surveys and attending around 50 consultation meetings across the UK this summer.

They will be asked whether Camra should move away from promoting traditional real ale and become more inclusive, campaigning on behalf of “all beer drinkers, all pub goers regardless of what they drink, or even all alcohol drinkers, regardless of where they drink it”.

Members will also consider wether it should “shed subsidiary issues which have become attached to the organisation over the years in order to narrow its focus exclusively on cask-conditioned beer”, Camra said in a statement.

One of the founding members leading the “revitalisation project” acknowledged criticism of the group that says it is “old-fashioned and reactionary, failing to embrace developments in the pub and beer industry such as craft beer.”

Michael Hardman continued: “This is the chance for our members to tell us who we should represent in the future and for what we should be campaigning.”

“When we founded the Campaign the most important thing was choice and combatting poor quality beer. Now our members need to tell us what is important to them.

“We need to hear from as many CAMRA members as possible to tell us what they think the organisation should look like in the future.”

One of the first of the member meetings is taking place in Southwark, London on Wednesday 13 April. Camra members are being invited to sign up to attend by visiting camra.org.uk/revitalisation

The results of the consultation will be presented at its members weekend in April 2017.

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