The focus of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has obviously been blurred and dispersed over the last 45 years. This realisation seem to have recently reached the threshold and CAMRA stepped up to sort it out through a revitalisation project. The first stage in this process is a consultation launched at the beginning of April. The tone of the reports and comments about the project has greatly varied, which supports my feeling that CAMRA’s communication has been rather confusing. For a start, the consultation document neither defines the actual problem the project is meant to solve, nor sets a clear objective to achieve. CAMRA is apparently “enjoying a record membership and greater influence than ever before” which is insufficient to necessitate an overhaul, in my view. The document, instead, briefly summarises the changes in the beer market, the story of CAMRA and makes a good deal of assumptions. The big questions asked are related to different groups of products and consumers and what CAMRA is actually for.
One of the reasons I started writing Beer Means Business was the lack of specific interest in the business of new wave brews in the UK (and Europe). Although this sector should deserve credit through distinction, reporters have flattered it with using terms, statistics and analyses from North America without further comment. There are differences between the beer markets demonstrated by basic numbers and calculations.
Not only for the publications of the book but also the summary of the contributions to the consultation on the EU alcohol tax framework. The consultation, a significant phase of the evaluation process ended in November 2015, but no further update has been given by the European Commission’s tax division.
Already while writing, I was concerned about the time gap between finishing the manuscript and the actual publication of the book. Seeing the pace of evolution of the UK beer industry, a lot could happen in the course of a few months, and, in fact, a lot has been happening. The book contains references to events which are expected to take place in the near future as well as numbers and information from the then latest publications.
I realised that finishing a manuscript does not mean finishing writing. I have been anxiously checking the news, blogs posts, websites and publications about the industry to complement, confirm or contradict what is in the manuscript but no longer can be changed. The Beer Means Business blog is meant to be the source of updates and conclusion on some of the matters in the book.