I was made aware on Sunday of a piece in the Newcastle based Sunday Sunwhich reported on a so called fracas at a meeting of CAMRA Tyneside and Northumberland Branch. It seems there was some kind of fall out over what breweries should be represented at Newcastle Beer Festival. Cue a "young" versus "old" ding dong about this, in which it is hard to discern what the truth or indeed the problem actually is, but seemingly it evolved into an argument about web sites and more. None of it, outside our beery little world, seems that newsworthy to me, but maybe it was a quiet news day at the Sunday Sun.
A proposal to include more breweries from the local area than the Beer Orderer intended was, it seems, democratically defeated. There was also a web site "offered" to the CAMRA Branch and turned down by them, which was a cue for a flurry of rattles to be thrown from prams. Oddly, the branch has an official website already and even more oddly, the site offered has the same name as the official one - "Canny Bevvy". It can be found athttp://www.cannybevvy.com/ and the official one can be found at http://www.cannybevvy.co.uk/. The unofficial one advocates keg beer and that CAMRA should embrace it and the official one has a note "Beware of Imitations. That gives you a flavour of things. Now actively supporting keg beer is all well and good if that is your point of view, but since it isn't CAMRA policy, you are on a loser there. Unless you toddle along to the National AGM and persuade it of the need to change, it isn't going to happen and local branches have no authority to vary this national policy. It is unsurprising that this idea met resistance. The web site offered seems on the face of it at least, to be no better in its design than the official one, so God knows what that is all about. Content presumably and probably nothing more than a good old fashioned power struggle.
To me looking at this from the inside as it were, I just wish that locally we had enough young members that want to be involved, coming along to meetings and making proposals, though I like to think we'd work together and find common ground. I would also say that if push came to shove, I would fight like a demon to uphold CAMRA national policies rather than let my branch go maverick. Democracy is important. In short there is a right way and a wrong way to achieve change. And it does take time.
Either way, I find all this a bit unseemly. Even if there is more to it than meets the eye, surely there has to be a way for minds to meet here without falling out publicly? Beer drinking is a broad church and division is bad for all of us.
Also seems someone from the meeting grassed it all off to the Sunday Sun, so it is now public domain. I don't think I'd have commented otherwise. Still not sure I should have.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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