The Campaign for Real Ale
) is an independent, voluntary
, consumer organisation
based in St Albans
, whose main aim is promoting real ale
and the traditional British pub
. It is now the largest single-issue consumer group in the UK and is a founding member of the European Beer Consumers' Union
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 industrialisation and homogenisation of the British brewing industry. One of the early members was the Good Beer Guide editor, Roger Protz. The original name was the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale.
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. It also makes an effort to promote less common varieties of beer and other traditionally brewed beverages including stout
, traditional cider
, and perry
CAMRA has over 90,000 members. Member benefits include a monthly newsletter, "What's Brewing", and 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.
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.
Events and publications
CAMRA publishes the Good Beer Guide
, an annually compiled directory of its recommended pubs and brewers. They also run the Great British Beer Festival
, a yearly event held in London
at which a large selection of cask ales
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.
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 third, half or 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.
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
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
(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 importantance, and seeks to get them listed
, if not already.
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 WWII. 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 254 pubs as of July 2007.