Over the course of a few days the local CAMRA branches; Liverpool and District and Wirral and Merseyale seem to have done their best to court a bit of controversy. Where did it all start? well innocuously it started both with the Pub of the year announcement. I also shouted out on twitter for some suggestions on where to drink on the Wirral, this led to a fantastic response from several people of where to visit. It also opened a pandora’s box which doesn’t seem to want to shut! (not without good reason though)
All the while through this the local CAMRA branch and the local beer publication merseyale have continued to subtly insult craft beer. when i started this i intended it to be a mostly informative, light hearted ramble about drinking in the Merseyside area. However i am getting tired of the outmoded attitude of Liverpool CAMRA branch, im glad i havn’t joined CAMRA now! considering the great work CAMRA has done in its 40 years it could do with a serious attitude check and maybe move with the times.
anyway in summary here is what has happened over the last few days
Liverpool Pigeon announced as POTY 2014
you can read about why CAMRA chose the pigeon on their own website, this choice has proven contentious amongst local drinkers as the pigeon is not technically in “Liverpool” as such but also because it hasn’t even been open a full year. Again in the article the local branch trys to get the boot in one of the positive comments made in reference to the pigeon is “not having any keg products on sale” really? because all keg products are like carling arn’t they?
I would like to take this opportunity to say i love the pigeon, at the risk of repeating myself I am pleased the pigeon has received recognition, I agree with some of the stuff in the CAMRA article, last time it was visited i got the last pint out of a barrel and was asked if i wanted to try it and if it wasn’t satisfactory i could change it. Thats great service! I’d strongly recommended a visit to the pigeon and other pubs in the Crosby and Waterloo area they are fantastic.
Runners up this year were The dispensary and The Belvedere
the latest edition of merseyale is available in local drinking establishments now and available on-line for you to read, and I really insist you do.
For starters there is a piece on the new Brewdog bar which is soon to be opened in Liverpool, a large contingent of people are very happy about this, yes Brewdog can seem like they enjoy courting controversy and have “attitude” but its good to have another outlet of good quality beer. But do they take the opportunity to welcome them? No. They bang on about how Brewdog made real ale once but switched to craft which is apparently in CAMRA circles the equivalent of being a Judas, they continue to say that Brewdog make strong beers and seem to suggest that its the only reason they are famous. Brewdog have done their best to say one of the reasons for their bars is to educate people on good beers, a noble cause but Merseyale says:
“if the mission is education then why seek to locate their bar in the premier binge drinking zone in Liverpool which is a designated CIP and has experienced a 25% rise in assaults. There are many other Liverpool city centre locations which would suit an educational mission aimed at people with money to buy and sit and savour the expensive BrewDog beers. Which begs the question “so why go there?” It couldn’t be money could it?
Binge drinking zone? so what the hell happens at a beer festival? bloody grow up!
well now this has caused the biggest stink this week, and as i mentioned it all started with me trying to find out what are good places to drink in West Kirby and Hoylake. It ended in the self crucifixion of the area by the Wirral CAMRA members! I will point out that this wasn’t written by Merseyale but published in it, this particular piece was written by Wirral CAMRA members likening it to a real ale desert (because decent craft or keg doesn’t count remember in their book)
I won’t quote a particular section fully you can read that yourself but in a nutshell the Wirral CAMRA members have said if you want to get at real ale you need to go to Chester or Liverpool for better choice and quality. Quite a self defeating attitude for a organisation intended to correct these sort of inadequacies?
And the beat goes on
the above little snippet was taken only just yesterday from the districts facebook page, a thinly veiled kick in the ribs to craft/keg beer again from CAMRA! no mention of the silly import taxes that foreign beers have when they enter the UK. and who drinks a whole pint of some of this stuff? its nice to enjoy as a half or a 3/4 pint!
Over the last few days its become clear to me that CAMRA and Merseyale are becoming something of a dinosaur, we all know what happened to them, failure to adapt. CAMRA has done a sterling job in 40 years of helping to preserve certain beer styles which might have been lost forever, they campaign for drinkers and publicans, yet this outdated attitude to craft beer, keg beer or whatever you want to bloody call it is getting silly and childish. If CAMRA is to survive another 40 years i think it needs to look now at being more inclusive, maybe it should just be the campaign for real beer? or the campaign for good beer?
and as for Merseyale? shockingly i enjoy reading it, it can be very informative, i enjoyed the piece on Wapping brewery, but it can be VERY opinionated and very high and mighty case and point:
“Readers of MerseyAle will be aware that “craft beer” is a meaningless term which has no definition of what it means, unlike real ale. See MerseyAle Spring 2012 edition page 29, entitled ‘Craft Beer – Keg Beer by Another Name?“
Unfortunately you cannot currently get at previous versions of merseyale on the camra website possibly due to a technical error. But if you can get a hold of the issue i think its a worthy read, because it seems the pro craft beer opinion is simply swept under the rug.
Merseyale could do with being a lot more broad-minded and less biased.