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British lager producers vs. Camra [Article]

A crushed Stella tinny. Photo: Sonny Meddle/Rex Features

My latest piece for the Guardian's Word of Mouth is on the fracas between small-scale British lager producers and the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

Click here to read it.

Update: This has proved my most popular story on Word of Mouth so far, drawing over 150 comments and ending up the most viewed article across Life & Style. It's been invigorating to read such strong opinions on both sides. (17/11/09)


  1. You haven't quite hit the issue on the head here - which is not surprising as it's very dull to any non-beer geek: Freedom was banned by CAMRA not because it was a lager, but because of the way it is dispensed. This clause also rules out a lot of very decent ales.

    But your post - and the responses to it - draw out a snobbery about lager that's an entirely different point to the real reason Freedom was banned.

    Now we have quality British lagers being craft-brewed, it puts the CAMRA dinosaurs in a tricky position.

    I was judging at a CAMRA beer festival recently and there were three cask lagers on - conforming to CAMRA's dispense rules. They were classed as 'speciality beers'. Yeah, that's right - lager, that unusual, hard-to-come-by niche beer.

    They're not all idiots in CAMRA. But it does seem the more backward they are, the louder they shout.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Pete. You're right that pieces like that cause people to come out the woodwork. And I certainly don't think Camra is made up of idiots.

    However, I did understand that it was the way beer is served, not the fact it was a lager, that caused Freedom to be banned. That's why I wrote:

    A 'new wave of British microbrewers is producing handcrafted lager on a small scale, against dogged opposition from ... the real ale lobby - owing to the brewers' use of CO2 to dispense the beer'. And later, I mentioned Freedom's 'use of gas to serve its beer' as being the cause for its ban.

  3. congrats on your piece, Ollie. i dont know much about the beer industry; enjoyed reading your article.

  4. As a former very keen real ale festival goer (former, because I'm now in Australia) I have to say I'm coming down on CAMRA's side on this one.

    The reason my friends and I went to beer festivals was to drink ... beer. We were always grateful for the 'International Beer' stall for our (one or two) lager drinking friends (& I suspect at most festivals this is where locally produced lagers would end up), but the reason we were there was to drink ale, beer, porter, stout (and, just the once, barleywine).

    I very much doubt that CAMRA is against the production of craft lager - it's just that such a drink doesn't belong at a 'beer' festival.

    Don't forget that CAMRA was set up to promote and protect a national treasure and lager is, essentially, an import which gained popularity in the late 19th century.

  5. I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^