CAMRA sets sights on restaurants, bars and hotels as part of Revitalisation Project

Susanna Forbes

13 February 2017

Wondering about the future of CAMRA, in light of its recent Revitalisation Project? Wonder no longer, as the answer is contained within the pages of the project's final report.

While cask ale and community pubs will remain at the heart of the Campaign for Real Ale's raison d'être, proposals put forward by the Revitalisation Project are likely to impact on the whole of the hospitality sector, according to the architects of the report.

'The quality of beer in restaurants is considerably better than it was four to six years ago,' said Michael Hardman MBE, founder member of CAMRA and chair of The Revitalisation Project's Steering Committee. 'We are going to be able to expect good quality beer of some sort in all restaurants in the future.'

Currently regional CAMRA committees have both brewery and pub liaison representatives. If the wider on-trade environment is embraced, this sort of relationship could be extended to restaurants, bars and hotels.

'The entire on-trade is where we want to have a presence,' CAMRA's Emily Ryans told Imbibe at a recent briefing.

Originally born in the 1970s to rescue the endangered cask ale pint, CAMRA soon became the UK's leading pub champion too. Membership currently stands north of 180,000, making it Europe’s largest single-issue consumer body. Today, while 'real ale' has been rescued, the ever-changing beer environment plus its new market of keen advocates poses new challenges as well as opportunities, hence the birth of The Revitalisation Project in 2015.

Eighteen months, 50 nationwide consultation meetings and three member surveys later, the Project's Steering Committee agreed that the status quo was no longer a viable option, and came up with a number of far-reaching proposals.

Immediately squashing the 'outlandish suggestions that the project was a quest to dump real ale', perhaps the most important proposal to emerge recommends that, while cask remains king, good kegged beer can also be supported. 'There are other types of good beer that are deserving of our support,' said Hardman, adding that there should be a move away from 'technical definitions and a focus on quality'.

Proposals include the establishment of a training wing which could offer courses for those in the trade as well as consumers, plus more of a focus on digital communications. With an ageing membership, Hardman hopes that this new direction will 'welcome a broad range of discerning ale drinkers' to the fold.

The proposals will be debated at CAMRA’s AGM in Bournemouth in April, with final recommendations being drawn up for the 2018 AGM.

For more visit the CAMRA Revitalisation Project website.

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