Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is an independent voluntary consumer organisation based in St Albans, England, whose main aims are promoting real ale, real cider and the traditional British pub. It is now the largest single-issue consumer group in the UK,[1] and is a founding member of the European Beer Consumers' Union (EBCU).



CAMRA logo on a bar towel

The organisation was founded in 1971 by a group of four drinkers—Graham Lees, Bill Mellor, Michael Hardman, and Jim Makin—who were opposed to the growing mass production of beer and the homogenisation of the British brewing industry. Other early influential members included Christopher Hutt, author of "Death of the English Pub", who succeeded Hardman as chairman, Frank Baillie, author of "The Beer Drinker's Companion", and later the current "Good Beer Guide" editor, Roger Protz. The original name was the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale.[2]


CAMRA's stated aims are to:

  1. Protect and improve consumer rights.
  2. Promote quality, choice and value for money.
  3. Support the public house as a focus of community life.
  4. Campaign for greater appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture.
  5. Seek improvements in all licensed premises and throughout the brewing industry.[3]

CAMRA's campaigns include promoting small brewing and pub businesses, reforming licensing laws, reducing tax on beer, and stopping continued consolidation among local British brewers.[4] It also makes an effort to promote less common varieties of beer, including stout, porter, and mild,[5] as well as traditional cider and perry.[6]


The CAMRA office building in St Albans

In 2009, CAMRA announced that it had reached the 100,000 members mark and has since surpassed the 130,000 members mark.[7] Member benefits include a monthly newspaper, "What's Brewing" and a quarterly "BEER" magazine, and free or reduced price admission to CAMRA-organised beer festivals.

CAMRA is organised on a federal basis, with numerous independent local branches, each covering a particular geographical area of the UK, that contribute to the central body of the organisation based in St Albans. It is governed by a voluntary unpaid national executive, elected by the membership.[8] The local branches are grouped into 16 regional branches across the UK, such as the West Midlands or Wessex.[9]

The current National Chairman is Colin Valentine, who took over from Paula Waters in February 2010. The Chief Executive is Mike Benner.[10]

CAMRA has established influence at national government level, including English Heritage, and has been designated by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as a "super-complainant" to the Office of Fair Trading.[11]

Events and publications

CAMRA publishes the Good Beer Guide, an annually compiled directory of its recommended pubs and brewers; the Good Cider Guide, an occasionally compiled directory of pubs that sell real Cider; the Good Bottled Beer Guide, an occasionally compiled review of real ale in a bottle. CAMRA members receive a monthly newspaper called What's Brewing and a quarterly colour magazine called Beer. They also run the Great British Beer Festival, a yearly event held in London at which a large selection of cask ales and ciders are tasted. It also maintains a National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors to help bring greater recognition and protection to Britain's most historic pubs.


Great British Beer Festival 2004

CAMRA supports and promotes numerous beer and cider festivals around the country each year, which are organised by local CAMRA branches around the UK. Generally, each festival charges an entry fee which varies depending upon the area, and either covers entry only or includes a commemorative ⅓, ½ or 1 pint glass sporting the details of the festival. A festival programme is usually also provided, listing the drinks available for tasting and providing a brief description of each beverage.[12]

The Campaign also organises an annual Great British Beer Festival in August, in London. Previously this was held at Olympia, but currently resides at Earl's Court.[13]


CAMRA presents awards for beers and pubs, such as the National Pub of the Year, in which approximately 4,000 active CAMRA members from 200 local branches vote for their favourite pub. The branch winners are entered into 16 regional competitions which are then visited by several individuals who select the ones they like best. There are also the Pub Design Awards, which are held in association with English Heritage and The Victorian Society. These comprise several categories, including new build, refurbished, and converted pubs. The best known CAMRA award is the Champion Beer of Britain,[14] which is selected at the Great British Beer Festival, other awards include the Champion Beer of Scotland and the Champion Beer of Wales.

National Beer Scoring Scheme

CAMRA developed the "National Beer Scoring Scheme"[15] (NBSS) as an easy to use scheme for judging beer quality in pubs, to assist CAMRA branches in selecting pubs for the Good Beer Guide. The person filling in the form records their name, date, the pub, the beer and the score. The scores range from 0, which signifies the beer is in such poor condition it cannot be drunk; through 2, which signifies an average beer that is drunk without calling attention to itself in either a positive or negative manner; up to 5, which signifies a perfect beer.

Pub heritage group

The "CAMRA Pub Heritage Group" is a group established to identify, record and help protect public house interiors of historic and/or architectural importance, and seeks to get them listed, if not already.[16]

The group maintains two inventories of "Heritage pubs", the National Inventory (NI), 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. The second, larger inventory is the Regional Inventory (RI), which is broken down by county and contains both those pubs listed in the NI and other pubs that are not eligible for the NI, due to reasons such as having been overly modified, but are still considered historically important, or have particular architectural value.

The NI contains 289 pubs as of June 2009.[17]


With the main aims in mind, the group launched the LocAle scheme in 2007 which was developed by Steve Westby[18][19] of the Nottingham branch[20] to help promote locally brewed beers and also help with environmental issues. The scheme functions slightly differently in each area, and is managed by each branch, but the overall rule is that each participating pub is allowed to purchase beer from whatever brewery they wish, but if it the beer is to be promoted as a 'LocAle' it must come from a brewery within a predetermined number of miles (which is set by each CAMRA branch, but generally is around 20 or 25 miles,[21] although, the North London branch has set it at 30 miles[22]) from brewery to pub door,[19] even if it comes from a distribution centre further away,[21] in addition, each participating pub must keep at least one LocAle for sale at all times.[21][22]

See also


  1. ^ England My England: A Treasury of ... - Google Books. 2005. ISBN 9781861058935. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  2. ^ Neill, Richard (2000-11-09). "Still bitter after all these years". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  3. ^ "About Us - CAMRA". Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Campaigns - CAMRA". Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Beer Styles - CAMRA". Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "About Cider - CAMRA". Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  7. ^ CAMRA reaches 100,000 member milestone!, Campaign for Real Ale, 4 August 2009,, retrieved 2009-08-17 
  8. ^ "What is CAMRA?". Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "CAMRA Near You". Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "CAMRA appoints new National Chairman" (Press release). CAMRA. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  11. ^ The Enterprise Act 2002 (Bodies Designated to make Super-complaints) Order 2005, The Stationery Office, 2005,, retrieved 2009-05-05 
  12. ^ List of upcoming CAMRA beer festivals
  13. ^ Great British Beer Festival
  14. ^ Champion Beer of Britain Information, Campaign for Real Ale, 8 August 2008,, retrieved 2009-05-05 
  15. ^ Laniosh, Brett (12 January 2006), National Beer Scoring Scheme, Campaign for Real Ale,, retrieved 2009-05-05 
  16. ^ Heritage Pubs - An Overview, Campaign for Real Ale,, retrieved 2009-05-05 
  17. ^ "Pub Heritage, the Campaign for Real Ale". Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  18. ^ 'Check your beers urges LocAle creator' , What's Brewing, August 2010 issue
  19. ^ a b 'LocAle boosts local tourism', What's Brewing, September 2010 issue
  20. ^ CAMRA LocAle (accessed 6 September 2010)
  21. ^ a b c LocAle - More Information & Downloads for Licensees (accessed 6 September 2010)
  22. ^ a b CAMRA North London - LocAle (accessed 6 September 2010)

External links

Coordinates: 51°45′06″N 0°18′51″W / 51.7518°N 0.3141°W / 51.7518; -0.3141

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