I’d like to fully support the comments made in Nick Williams’ letter regarding “Craft Keg Beer” in the June 14 edition of Beer Matters.
Keg beer is Keg beer. It is dead in the cask, it is pressurised and, as such, certainly doesn’t qualify under CAMRA’s definition of “Real Ale” which has served us well since CAMRA’s establishment in 1971
So why is there any question of us “embracing it?”
The term “craft beer” is a misleading diversion. As Dave Pickersgill outlines in his adjacent letter, it means a variety of things in a variety of situations and is sometimes being used to give the impression of quality with no other evidence of that quality. Further to this, the term “craft beer” is being used in the context of real ale, keg beer and filtered bottle beer which renders the term ambiguous and confusing.
Quality issues aside though, keg beer is keg beer and real ale is real ale. We are the” Campaign for Real Ale” and whilst we have a mandate to campaign about associated issues connected with real ale, we have no mandate to support the production and supply of types of beers which are a threat to our aims.
Those of us who have been around since the 70s and experienced the first demise of real ale in favour of keg are very concerned that history is about to repeat itself. I can remember the Worthington E, Whitbread Tankard, Watneys Red Barrel, Youngers Tartan etc establishing themselves as the standard and driving out traditional brews from pubs leaving us with nothing but pasteurised fiz for miles around, de-skilling bar and cellar staff in the process. We can’t let it happen again!
If real ale brewers choose to use their foothold in the market to peddle keg beer to the outlets CAMRA members and supporters have patronised for many years, there’s little we can do about it (except not drink it!)
However it does seem a little like the brewers and the pubs teaming up to “bite the hand that feeds them.” After all, many of them wouldn’t exist without the presence of CAMRA establishing the virtue of real ale over the last 40+ years.
Keg beer has proved to be a threat to real ale in the past and, regardless of how it is “dressed up” is a real threat in the future. We should remind ourselves of our aims, and as we did in the 70s, discourage our pubs to sell it and have nothing to do with it!