Dispelling The Myths
Sometimes I am quite surprised by how little the general public and, in some cases members, know about our organisation, how it is run and what we stand for. I have therefore compiled the following with a hope to dispelling some of the myths about CAMRA as a whole and about our branch specifically.
- We are all old, retired, balding, bearded blokes with beer bellies – This is complete nonsense! The age range of the members in our area is 18 – 86, more than a quarter of our members are female and nearly 40% of Amber Valley members are under 50
- We are ‘beer spotters’, a bunch of geeks who only ever talk about beer – Whilst the love of real ale, cider and perry is the thing that brings us together, a lot of our members share similar interests outside of CAMRA, quite a few of us are foodies, some love music, quite a number are keen walkers, etc
- We are a secret handshake, closed society – That couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone can join and everyone can join in with our activities if they want to. We strive to be inclusive not exclusive. When I first joined CAMRA I met Nottingham branch on a social survey minibus tour of Awsworth and Kimberley. It was a very laid back social event but I learnt a lot and met a number of hard working members of the Nottingham Committee including the late great Peter ‘Spyke ‘ Golding. Similarly when I first moved back to Amber Valley I joined a Xmas social on a whim. On both occasions I hadn’t met any other members beforehand, yet they were very welcoming and friendly and I now consider a lot of them good friends.
- Membership isn’t good value for money – That really depends on your opinion. With a monthly newspaper/letter entitled What’s Brewing, a quarterly magazine called ‘Beer’, discounted entry to a number of beer festivals, membership discounts on real ale in participating pubs and £20 of Wetherspoons vouchers each year one might have a strong argument that it is. Add to that the free monthly minibus social surveys in our area as well.
- At CAMRA beer festivals we work for the breweries – Incorrect. Beer festivals are run independently by individual branches who are responsible for all aspects of the festival including erecting the stillage, ordering, racking and serving of the beers, keeping the site clean and tidy, booking the bands, health and safety, catering, security etc. Look out for my upcoming series of blog posts on behind the scenes of running a beer festival.
- The festival beer is donated to us by the breweries – If only this were the case! We usually get a few sponsored beers and some breweries donate beer for free advertising in our programme but other than that we order and pay for the beer in the same way a pub does.
- Beer festival staff are paid for their time – Incorrect; staff are given beer tokens in proportion to the number of hours worked and if they worked enough hours, food tokens as well. The truth is that some of us work from 10:30 am until 11:30pm every day the festival is open and end up with far more tokens than we could ever spend. Some even take part in the setup and take down as well.
- Our beer festivals take away valuable custom from local landlords – The reality is quite the opposite. Our branch is only involved in two festivals a year and open for a total of 5 days. At our last festival many pubs in Belper reported an increase in trade, a quite significant increase for some and one even put on their own beer festival to keep up with demand.
- We have a strong allegiance with J D Wetherspoons – Untrue, the only connection we have with them is the £20 vouchers they give to new members. We are completely independent.
- We have allegiances to one brewery/pub/venue – False. We are independent and demonstrate this by holding our meetings at different pubs and visiting a large number of different pubs on our social surveys. In 2014 we held meetings in 18 different pubs and visited 57 different pubs on our social surveys. See here for the list of said venues.
If you have a query or question about CAMRA please get in contact with the relevant member of the branch or beer festival committee, contact details are available on the sub menu of the contact us link at the top.