The above video was originally uploaded to YouTube by a user called Alcofrolicchap here. It shows CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine sharing some of his views on the growing number of beer bloggers and their apparent views on beer. Generally I don't see the point in posting negative articles on this blog, I'm usually of the mind that if you don't have anything good to say then it's better to say nothing at all. Despite this, there are a few points that Colin makes that I feel an obligation to respond to. An obligation as a beer blogger and a member of, as he calls it, the "bloggerati". Far from attempting to create confrontation, this is an attempt to disprove some of the points Colin makes.
Colin Valentine says "the bloggerati are only interested in new things" and "the best beer they've ever had is the next one".
Well, here and here I talk about how much I like Worthington White Shield, a beer that dates back to 1829 and is often described as the oldest surviving IPA.
Zak Avery speaks here about Greene King Coronation Ale; a beer brewed once, in 1936, 75 years ago.
Mark Dredge writing about Pilsner Urquell, a beer that dates back to 1842, describes his experience whilst drinking it as “the most incredible drinking experience of my life so far”.
And here’s Pete Brown in a video blog about the oldest brewing competition in the world, one that dates back to 1886, a video blog that also focuses upon the brewing traditions of Burton upon Trent.
Colin Valentine argues that unlike "Real Ale", the term "Craft Beer" is worthless because it has no definition.
Is something meaningless until it has a solid definition? I don’t think so. “Craft Beer” is becoming a de facto standard term for beer brewed with skill and passion and with a focus on quality and flavour. It will never have an enforced definition because it isn’t the mission statement of an organisation. “Craft Beer” is a banner under which lovers of great beer operate; be it a professional in a brewery, an amateur brewing at home or a drinker with a glass in hand, an advocate of craft beer is a lover of beer that tastes great. EVERYTHING else about that beer is secondary.
Colin Valentine says "Craft beer changes not a jot between leaving the brewery and getting into the customer's glass and is served using CO2 and/or nitrogen. It is called KEG BEER".
Wrong. Here I talk about a pint of cask Thornbridge Jaipur that was so good it completely blew me away, whilst here I talk about Lovibonds Brewery and their range of fantastic keg beer. Leigh from “The Good Stuff” writes about enjoying Camden Town Pale Ale (Keg) and also Black Sheep Imperial Stout (cask). All of these beers are craft beers. I can only assume that Colin is attempting to describe filtered and pasteurised keg beer. The term "Craft Beer" is not applied based on the method of dispense, show me the blogger that disagrees and I’ll show you the blogger that’s in the minority.
Colin Valentine says "Forty years of achievement means nothing to them" and “all of these people want us to change and adopt their latest idea, not to try and start their own movement".
Relatively speaking, I’m a young beer drinker; I have no first hand experience of the 1970s and the crap keg beer that threatened to kill off cask ale. However, neither am I an idiot. I personally appreciate CAMRA and the work they have done, I’m able to understand the important role they’ve played in shaping the beer that’s available for me to drink today and I am grateful that cask ale is widely available in so many of my local pubs. Similarly, I understand the power and visibility that CAMRA has as an organisation, and for that reason I would like to see CAMRA more open to change. The beer landscape is different today than it was in 1975, not all kegged beer today is bad beer. I think CAMRA are in a unique position, the opportunity exists for the organisation’s tremendous work to be continued, but continued in the campaign for the promotion of great beer regardless of the method of dispense.