In what might be seen as a major intervention in CAMRA's Revitalisation Project, Bradley Cummings, co-founder and co-owner of Tiny Rebel Brewing has thrown his hat into the ring and will stand as a CAMRA National Executive member. What might this mean if he is successful in his attempt? Is it a good or a bad thing? Let's have a look.
Well we don't need to guess at his intentions as he lays out his plans in a short and succinct 23 page manifesto. Let's have a look at it.
On the (perhaps) positive side Brad :
- points out the lack of member involvement in the Campaign
- puts forward a number of ideas to increase that involvement
- wants to "drive shit and get things done"
- wishes to get the best out of the potential of nearly 200,000 members
- agrees CAMRA should widen its remit to include the wider beer community
- recognises that unprofitable pubs must close
- thinks that pubs must adapt or die
- agrees that CAMRA should establish an Industry Committee or suchlike
- thinks we should have a focus on membership education though disagrees with proposed methodology
- points out CAMRA isn't very cool
- reminds us that a 300% increase in members has brought little by way of increased involvement
- suggests a much better use of technology and direct membership involvement
- reminds us that better choice not real ale was the CAMRA founding principle
- states that poor quality cask ale is the biggest risk to the future of cask ale
- urges us to vote with our feet when encountering poor real ale
On the (perhaps) less positive side Brad:
- seems to disregard cider and perry as irrelevant
- thinks brewers, not the beer drinking public know best about beer quality
- supports the on trade as a way into pubs for drinkers
- poo-poos cask conditioned ale as the pinnacle of the brewer's art
- wants members to be distanced from breweries by allowing brewers to represent themselves, rather than though liaison officers
- wants industry representation at all levels of CAMRA including direction and policy
- postulates that quality comes at a cost
On the other hand, personally, I am very wary and can't really concur with (possibly inadvertently) repositioning CAMRA as a kind of offshoot of industry, though some closer involvement would be sensible. CAMRA must continue to be an independent consumer champion and the very idea that brewers know best about everything beer-wise certainly causes me to raise my eyebrows somewhat. After all brewers rarely speak with a common voice. Just look at hazy versus clear, not to mention many other subjective arguments about hopping rates, carbonation, pricing, packaging and like as not, a million things more.
So vote for Brad? Up to you really, but having chaired the Great Manchester Beer Debate at Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, where Brad was a panel member, I was impressed with many of his points of view. Revitalisation is something very different and maybe it is time for someone new to the Campaign, with an unconventional and non traditional background, to become a member of the Executive that will steer the changes through. There's lots you can add on the plus side and I for one reckon it might just be a good thing - assuming if elected - he sees his term to its end.
After all, cometh the hour, cometh the man.
The Great Manchester Beer Debate was interesting. Subject was loosely "The Price of Beer". I'll try and deal with this in a later post. Yes, on the whole, most brewers, despite the fact they say little comes their way, favour higher prices.
Brad would also knock the JDW tokens on the head. He isn't alone in this.
Remember, all members will have a vote for both the National Executive and for Revitalisation. Use it.