CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale is an independent, voluntary organisation campaigning for real ale, community pubs and consumer rights.
CAMRA was formed in March 1971 by four men from the north-west who were disillusioned by the domination of the UK beer market by a handful of companies pushing products of low flavour and overall quality onto the consumer.
Many brewers during the late 1960s and early 1970s had made the decision to move away from producing traditional, flavoursome beers which continued to ferment in the cask from which they were served, and such a move was opposed by Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Jim Makin and Bill Mellor, all of whom thought it was about time British beer drinkers were given better variety and choice at the bar.
With this in mind, it was inside the westernmost pub in Europe – along the Kerry coast – where the first foundations of the Campaign were laid. With the quartet appointing themselves as secretary (Lees), treasurer (Makin), events organiser (Mellor) and chairman (Hardman), the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale was born on Tuesday March 16th 1971.
While the newly formed Campaign’s name was altered at AGM in 1973 to the now universally recognised ‘Campaign for Real Ale’, CAMRA’s core aims to promote real ale and pubs, as well as acting as the consumer’s champion in relation to the UK and European beer and drinks industry, remain to this day.
Following the formation of the Campaign and the first AGM – at the Rose Inn, Nuneaton in 1972 – where early membership records consisted of the four founders and their friends, interest in CAMRA and its objectives spread rapidly, with 5,000 members signed up by the following year.
To date, CAMRA has over 150,000 (and growing!) members across the world, and has been described as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe.
CAMRA supports well-run pubs as the centres of community life – whether in rural or urban areas – and believe their continued existence play a critical social role in UK culture. CAMRA also supports the pub as the one place in which to consume real ale (also known as cask-conditioned beer, or cask ale) and to try one of over 5,500 different styles now produced across the UK. A full definition of real ale can be found at ‘About Real Ale‘.
CAMRA is governed by a National Executive – a board of directors – who are elected at AGM for a three-year term. At local level, CAMRA has over 200 branches across the UK, enabling members to campaign and socialise in their local area. CAMRA also has a professional staff of thirty people responsible for central campaigning, research, membership services, publishing, marketing, press and administration.
CAMRA is financed by membership subscriptions, sales of books and merchandise and proceeds from national and local beer festivals. CAMRA is a not for profit company, limited by guarantee.
Why not join us today if you care about great quality real ale and pubs?