The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)

CAMRA LogoWhat a find!  Jonno and I are researching this pub crawl idea (now The London Pub Crawl Co.) and in the process of looking at the competiton (more on this later), we remembered this tremenous voluntary organsation, called CAMRA – the “Campaign for Real Ale.”

CAMRAs’ main aims are promoting real ale, real cider and the traditional British pub. It’s now the largest single-issue consumer group in the UK.  It is also a founding member of the European Beer Consumers’ Union (EBCU). With more than 115,000 members, now CAMRA has real clout and a booming voice in the industry.

Now this is the kind of story all pub ventures should be made from.  CAMRA was founded by 4 drinkers in 1971 who hated the growing mass production beer and the homogenisation of the British brewing industry. The original name was “The Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale.”

Its aims include:

  • promoting small brewing and pub businesses;
  • promoting less common varieties of beer and other traditionally brewed beverages (e.g. stout, porter, mild, traditional cider and perry);
  • reforming licensing laws;
  • reducing tax on beer; and
  • stopping continued consolidation among local British brewers.
Good Beer Guide 2011

CAMRAs' Good Beer Guide 2011

It publishes the Good Beer Guide (buy online for £12.99 and support CAMRA – but keep in mind, this has around 4,500 of the 52,000 pubs in the UK, not just the top 200 in London, which is what we focus on).

This book is perfect if you are travelling around the UK but if you have limited time in London we recommend using one of our FREE Pub Crawl/Walk guides or if you’d like to hear the history of an area, of each pub you visit and learn more about ales then come on a guided crawl/walk with us.

And CAMRA organises the smashing Great British Beer Festival in August each year in London.  Here they have over 700 real ales, ciders and foreign beers for you to taste over 5 glorious days.  In 2010 they had another record attendance, almost 67,000 people enjoyed 200,000 pints - averaging 75 pints poured per minute!

It also runs the Pub Heritage website, which “is committed to protecting and promoting our historic pub interiors.” A very worthy cause we think!

The Pub Heritage Group maintains two inventories of “Heritage pubs”:

  • The National Inventory - which contains only those pubs that have been maintained in their original condition (or have been modified very little) for at least 30 years, but usually since at least World War II; and
  • The Regional Inventory – which is broken down by county and contains both those pubs listed in the National Inventory and other pubs that are not eligible for the National Inventory, due to reasons such as having been overly modified, are still considered historically important, or have particular architectural value.

There are currently only around 280 pubs in the National Inventory, about 0.5% (not even 1%!) of the 52,000 pubs in the UK.

Spend a few minutes and read more about the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).  And if you love ales us much as we do, join up as a CAMRA member.

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