What next for CAMRA?

The Campaign for Real Ale was founded in 1971 by four young men who wanted to protect the quality and diversity in British brewing. At that time, there were 175 breweries in the UK, but six of them produced 80% of the country’s beer and owned most of the pubs that sold it. The “Big Six” breweries were ditching traditional cask-conditioned beer in favour of processed and carbonated keg beer.

In the intervening 45 years, CAMRA’s activities have helped to revolutionise the beer landscape. There are now more than 1,500 breweries producing more than 11,000 beers. The vast majority of pubs sell at least one real ale, and in some cases a dozen or more. And CAMRA has grown to become one of the largest, single-issue consumer groups in the world.

So isn’t it time for CAMRA to raise a glass to a job well done and stand down? Continue reading “What next for CAMRA?”

The day that changed Lizzie’s life

I recently spent some time at the Horncastle Ales microbrewery. And I have to say that I’ve never met anyone who’s more enthusiastic about beer and brewing than head brewer, Lizzie Clarke.

Lizzie’s mum and dad, Ross and Sally Ellis, bought Old Nick’s Tavern in Horncastle in 2005, so you might assume that beer was in her blood. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, her conversion to ale enthusiast was very much a “road to Damascus” affair. Continue reading “The day that changed Lizzie’s life”

Is beer the best drink with food?

There was an interesting exchange in the “Daily Telegraph” last year. It started with a report by the paper’s Science Editor on Jane Peyton’s claim that beer is a better drink to serve with food than wine. As Jane was named Beer Sommelier of the Year by The Beer Academy in 2015, she should know what she is talking about.

However, the following day’s Telegraph editorial stated that Jane was utterly wrong. The writer was of the opinion that, “Beer should be drunk in a public house on a summer’s day, preferably while watching cricket. Should sustenance be needed, a Scotch egg or even a pork scratching will suffice, but never a full meal.” Continue reading “Is beer the best drink with food?”

Whitbread remembered

What is a quart? If you know that, you can probably remember the 1970s TV advert for Whitbread Trophy Bitter and the catchy jingle, “Whitbread Big Head Trophy Bitter, the pint that thinks it’s a quart.” If you’ve never seen it or you want a reminder, you can find it on YouTube.

I remember the advert whenever the name “Whitbread” appears on the business pages of the newspaper. According to their website, they are one of the country’s oldest and most respected companies. But they are no longer involved in brewing. They’ve evolved into the UK’s biggest hospitality company with brands including Premier Inn, Costa Coffee, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre. Continue reading “Whitbread remembered”