The Thin Edge Of The CAMRA (Beer Festival) Wedge?

Leeds beer festival took place at the weekend. This is usually a must for any serious beer quaffer. Held in Pudsey Civic Hall, it offers a wide range of beers-200 this year, ciders and foreign beers. And this year, being the 20th promised extra treats such as American craft beers on draft. Normally the Bury lads would be round there like a shot and I was looking forward to joining them.

Sadly it was not to be. Why? Well this year they had a shake up and abolished halves and pints. Yep. This year it was third and two-third measures only. These are described, somewhat incongruously, as “small” and “large” measures. Of course, such terms are meaningless in the real world but I suppose add a bit of hipness to proceedings and divert attention from the lack of real measures.

Why the change? You can read the official explanation here. But for me, it doesn’t add up. And it’s particularly disappointing as it’s a CAMRA event As someone put it, with more than a touch of irony, “I bet you’re sorry you supported the introduction of 1/3 measures now, aren’t you?” Well, I’m not, but I never envisaged that it would be at the expense of pints. Or halves.

CAMRA festivals-apart from generating income-should be about campaigning for, and promoting, real ale. Where is most real ale sold? In pubs. And that means, in the vast majority of places, drinking halves or pints. Thirds do have their uses but are still only found in a minority of pubs. However, having 2/3 measures seems particularly pointless. Despite some beer geeks proclaiming them as the second coming, the evidence in the licensed trade shows very little demand for them.

The fact is that there is very little wrong with the tried and tested third, half and pint system. If you’re some beer-weirdie who likes his beer (probably sans sparkler) in a schooner, I can live with that. But I don’t see why the experienced drinker, who is at the festival instead of probably being in the pub, should suffer on your behalf.

I have had it put to me that this is just CAMRA pandering to the government’s anti-alcohol mentality. Which would actually fit in with their general appeasement policy, I must say. “Look at us. Aren’t we the responsible ones. We don’t even serve pints.” This has led to mutterings of the thin-edge-of-CAMRA-wedges. Of course some of the scooper lads went along (hello, Jeff) albeit begrudgingly, as there were ticks to be had. But the rest of us took our business elsewhere. 

After all, if you can’t rely on CAMRA to defend the humble British pint, who can you trust?


Cooking Lager said…
ha ha, at a CAMRA event? Good god.

I think you'd have to ask the "committee" for the reasons but I suspect it is just idiocy.

As for whether the point of such things is money or campaigning, the bigger ones tend to be more about making money off beer enthusiasts and the smaller ones tend to attract locals there for a community event.
Steve Bolton said…
If you can't get pissed at a Camra beer festival, whats the point in going?!
Anonymous said…
Tandleman said…
Bloody Hell. More nutters getting CAMRA a bad name.

Idiocy indeed.
Barry said…
I was aware of this before I went, but like most people I think, thought that these were additional measures. I wasn't happy to find otherwise.

Speaking as a ticker, third pints are the norm. However, after the ticking is done, I like to unwind with a pint of my favourite. Whcih I was unable to do this time.

It just means more trips to the bar and more work for staff. If they do it again next year, I won't be going.
Penny said…
I fear you may be correct in your assumption that this is simply a nod in the direction of Mr Cameron & Clegg.

The government is relentless in driving home its guilt-ridden message of alcohol and food self-abuse. It seems now that CAMRA has caved in and is trying to reinvent itself to appease the health lobby.

What a shame.
John Clarke said…
Penny, I don't think "CAMRA" has caved in at all and I don't think you can sensibly extrapolate that from the antics of just one beer festival.

Not one other beer festival, as far as I know, has done or is planning to do this.
Tandleman said…
The interesting logic of the committee seems to be "because we can". Hmm.
Tandleman said…
Last word on this. Seeems to be against CAMRA policy. Internal Policy Document says in para 4.13

"4.13 All non draught beer (and cider and perry) to be consumed at festivals is to be sold in festival supplied glasses. Beer festival organisers are to examine the feasibility of using 1/3 pint measures in addition to ½ pint and/or pint measures."

Tyson said…

That's interesting. I have been told now that it was less to do with "responsible drinking" amd all to do with maximising profits. Wrong, either way.

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