Sunday, 29 May 2011

He Ain't My Valentine

This video(courtesy of Alcofrolichap) of the CAMRA AGM has really shown it's chairman Colin Valentine(from now to be called Shirley on this blog) in his true light, a small minded member of the old guard who, instead of championing cask conditioned ale, which CAMRA have been doing well for 40 years now, slags off the so called 'bloggerati'(his words) for only liking 'the next beer'.

Does Shirley realise that beer bloggers help promote cask conditioned ale?
This speech has already spawned tonnes of debate on Martyn's blog and there's a new blogger in town here who has kicked off his blog with his opinion, they are both CAMRA members and both now part of the bloggerati.
My main beef with this rant from Shirley is that he uses the phrase bloggerati in a demeaning way, now I myself have used this phrase as just a name for a group of bloggers together(it's as good as any other description). The other beef with Shirley is that he's practically labelled us all as beer fashionista's who only chase 'the next beer'! What a pile of absolute tosh! Does anyone else think that Shirley is just slagging off that which he doesn't understand?

Does he include the Tandlemans, Zytophiles, Real Ale Girls and Reluctant Scoopers of this world in his childish rant? I name these few because I know they are CAMRA members and bloggers and they are all very eloquent at shouting about the good points of cask conditioned beer too, unlike Shirley it seems.
I'm NOT a member of CAMRA, I won't be as long as people like Shirley are in charge.
I'm not calling for CAMRA to change it's focus, I'm not calling for CAMRA to champion keg beer, I'm calling for CAMRA to elect a less small minded leadership and embrace the future because surely leadership like this is a thing of the past?
Call me bloggerati, call me adventurous, call me a wind-up merchant, just don't call me Shirley.


beerprole said...

Do we know who the "once-respected British beer writer" who he's giving a kicking is?


Rabidbarfly said...

I don't it'll probably be on the beer advocate website though by the sounds of it.

Tandleman said...

My blog was specifically exempted just before the video clip started. So there!

But in any event, so what? CAMRA Chairman Defends Real Ale Shock. It is odd isn't it, a kind of cheek, that many in the blogging world feel free to attack CAMRA and its members in the most pejorative of terms, but throw a hissy fit when the CAMRA chairman decides to hit back a little. (More than you have blogged about this, one in particularly hysterical terms.)

As for the jibe about the best beer being the next,many bloggers do butterfly around the exotic and rarely extol cask. Many bloggers do promote and encourage keg beer. Many bloggers do seem to promote new and exciting - whether you think that a good or bad thing is a point for debate - and many do struggle to define craft and what it is or isn't, while rallying around the term and using CAMRA's non support of it as a club to beat them with.

Can't have it all ways and if stick is dished out, sometimes stick has to be taken.

Rabidbarfly said...

Exempted eh? Favouritism if you ask me.
As for the rest I agree that some bloggers promote keg(inc. me,and you, on occasion).
Some bloggers do chase the newest most exotic beers(I'm not cool enough for that unfortunately). And that in itself is mildly irritating for me. That's up to them though isn't it?
If we all wrote about the same thing on our blogs, NONE of them would be worth reading.
Some bloggers do talk about CAMRA and it's members in pejorative terms,I'll hold my hands up and say I'm not always full of praise for CAMRA, but there's taking the piss and there's talking bullshit.
Was he up for re-election or something? It sounded like he was trying to whip up the crowd...or was he just trying to wake them up? ;-p

Rob said...

Good points. I have seen a lot of slagging off of CAMRA on blogs in the past. Though a lot of what he's saying is more or less stereotyping. But to me any bloggers vs CAMRA conflict seems a bit pointless.

Tandleman said...

Right I'm off for some boring brown bitter.

Rabidbarfly said...

I'm drinking proper bottle conditioned beer - although CAMRA hasn't called it real yet....
Still, it ain't a figment of my imagination!

John Clarke said...

I really do think that Tandlman has hit the nail on the head with this one.

While CAMRA seems to be expected to soak up all the crap that is directed at it and its members, when it hits back in similar fashion hysteria breaks out and rattles are thrown out of prams.

I think some of the petulant foot stamping Colin's comments have caused around the blogosphere says rather more about the "bloggerati" than it does about CAMRA.

Thomas said...
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Thomas said...
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Owen said...

You say you won't be a member of CAMRA while "people like Colin" are in charge, and in the very next paragraph recognise that he is elected.

I'm curious why you won't join an organisation and use your vote, but feel entitled to tell those of us who do who we should vote for?

Colin's only mistake was to lump all bloggers (of whom I am one, though without the dubious fame of some) into the same category for the bulk of his speech, though as Tandleman says he did mention that not all were the same before he began; something that anti-CAMRA people rarely do regardless of their medium.

As a not particularly overweight CAMRA activist under 30 who doesn't own a pair of sandals and enjoys beers from milds to IIPAs, I've a lot more stereotyping to contend with than you poor put-upon bloggerati.

Labels belittle the labeller and the labelled. Unfortunately it's human nature to categorise.

Rabidbarfly said...

John - Petulant? Toys out of prams? This is a rather circular argument it seems, CAMRA chairman slags off bloggers, bloggers slag off CAMRA chairman. What next moma-cussing?
When talking about chucking toys out of prams in a rather high-horsed way, maybe a look in the mirror might not go amiss.
My criticism is of the chairman, not the organisation.

Thomas said...

Completely agree with you mate, you're bang on the monies here. I quit CAMRA because of this small minded policy re keg and it seems the old rear guard seem to think they are the political elite of the beer world.

I am aware there are staunch CAMRA followers whom believe everything AGM hierarchy members say. This is not in line with the rest of the population and I think this is the main reason why CAMRA are out of touch and falling behind.

Now don't get me wrong, I love cask conditioned ale as much as the next but to be told that keg beer is a no go when my favourite beers are keg conditioned is rediculous. They appear to have not left 1977 and it's a shame as they have some great people such as Tim Webb whom have been voicefully ignored on issues which I think are so correct., i.e. views on lambic in the Camra magazine.

Camra need to get in check; ignore their hideous hirarchy power circle, invite real freedom of choice and above all promote GOOD BEER in its optimum condition as depicted by the brewers. I don't care how my beer comes as long as its the way the brewer sees fit for that particular beer.

Notice how insulting Camra are towards young people and women? It's as if young people and women don't even drink beer when they do.

I chucked my Camra membership away this year and so far I've been very glad I've done this. Camra needs a new direction and a new model. It's out of touch. I don't want boring brown kak, I want fresh beers in exceptional condition, cask or keg.

Rabidbarfly said...

Thomas - not sure I'm that militant about it, I would say though in the organisations defence that it is the campaign for real ale, not good beer and that is fine by me. I'm not bucking for a change in their constitution.

Thomas said...

sorry, noticed some spelling mistakes and wouldn't let me edit so had to delete and re-post

Rabidbarfly said...

Owen - 1)frankly I don't have time to be an active CAMRA member, I'm just too busy and there would be bugger all point in becoming a member.
2) I'm not telling you who to vote for, I'm just giving you my opinion - you can choose to listen or not.
3)Why do I have to join to have an opinion? You might not think my opinion is valid as a non-member, that's your right but looking from the outside in, I see nothing that makes me want to join.
4)I don't seem to remember stereotyping anyone either.

Thomas said...
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Thomas said...

Blogger Thomas said...

Glyn, I'm militant when you have an organisation which fails to depict what is right for that particular beer. The big highlight is telling American brewers to only send ale as a cask and not keg for the GBBF. I guess I have interacted with a bad section of Camra crowd but the annoying issue is a lot of good they do they also have a lot of over site and some of it is patronising.

I would like Camra to become fully aware of other styles and not to be so sharp as to write them off from the start.

I also believe in real ale and I promote it vigerously but when you have someone like Valentine throwing his toys out of his pram because he deosn't understand freedom of speach and freedom of conditioning then it's rediculous.

The hirearchy should be ashamed of themselves for not using that opportunity to promote proper cask conditioning which when done properly is a marvel.

Unfoetuneately they are in a power heavy hirearchy which is resulting in them losing the plot and becoming out of touch. They are probably jelous that bloggers and beer collecters such as us are receiving the press and they are not. With an out burst like this it will probably continue.

Looking forward to Pete's perspective on this, Zak, Simon, Melissa, Mark, all people whom I have shared a beer with, note the lack of Camra chiefs.

Rabidbarfly said...

Thomas - I'm not sure that you'll see posts from those bloggers on the subject. They're far too sensible. I'm just out to promote good beer as a blogger and a bar manager in whatever form in comes in, be it Cask conditioned, Keg conditioned, bottled or 'nano keg'.

Thomas said...

Glyn, by doing that you already do enough for beer and you brew.

Disco Man said...

In all this debate I'm never exactly sure what people want CAMRA to do. They are a large and growing organisation with many different views but with one uniting value, that of the preservation and diversification of cask conditioned ale. Something they are successful at, though it is an ongoing task to ensure that cask remains a choice in British pubs. If some nice-tasting keg beer is served in a pub(very rare in my experience)then great, but don't expect the head of CAMRA to stand up at conference and argue the case for it. He may have been less than diplomatic in his use of words, but he is talking to the CAMRA conference! No different to a political leader at the party conference.

Owen said...

I didn't say you stereotyped anyone, I merely pointed out that CAMRA members are stereotyped as a matter of course by many, and to have a hue and cry because the CAMRA chairman talks about bloggers in general terms is the potstand calling the kettle black; whether you stereotype or not, the fact is that you haven't blogged in outrage every time CAMRA members are referred to as overweight middle aged bearded sock-wearing sandal aficionados. If you did, you'd have time to do little else.

What's more, Colin gave a caveat that he recognised not all bloggers were to ebe tarred with the same brush; that that caveat is not included in the video only shows you shouldn't jump to conclusion based on half the story from a members' conference for an organisation which you concede you never intend to become a member of.

To Thomas: CAMRA has increased it's membership by 25% from 100,000 to 125,000+ in 12 months. That's not a sign of an organisation losing touch.

You may have had bad experiences; there are certainly branches that have differing attitudes, but local variation is the price we pay for branch autonomy.

Colin has no objection to you freely choosing how you "condition" your beer, just don't expect him to like it or promote it in the same way he does cask conditioned beer; that's not his job.

If you've chucked your CAMRA membership in because of boring brown kak, then blame your pubs and not CAMRA. I can go out any night of the week and find pretty much any style of cask-conditioned beer, from black and malty to ultra-hopped and see-through. I also have the dubious pleasure of living in a city with a Brewdog bar, and having tried both the keg on offer there and the same beers cask conditioned elsewhere, they are far superior from cask. If you equate boring and brown with cask then you're drinking from the wrong casks.

Thomas said...
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Thomas said...
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Thomas said...

126,000 is a small number in the populas of Great Britain. Camra entices people to sign through discounted beers and offers. Take away those discounts and offers and only include policies then there would be a dirrent rate of people joining.

Their magazines are pretty poor too. I could go on. There should be an organisation to fund and support breweries; not a specific conditiong quality. What's the point in becoming a stewalt to an organistion which stiffles your drinking choises?

John Clarke said...

Rabidbarfly - never chucked a rattle out a pram in my life. But at time some of the tripe that people come out with....speaking of which -

Thomas - I think yours is the sort of stuff that Colin was taking aim at. Where to start? Can I be bothered? CAMRA doesn't stifle anyone's beer choices. In fact CAMRA is all about choice and if people don't want to drink cask that's up to them. All CAMRA wants is that if people do want to choose cask then that choice should be available to them.

CAMRA insulting to women and young drinkers? That's just cobblers. You don't like some of the local magazines? Well deary me. You come across as exhibiting just as much blind prejudice as the most die-hard CAMRA members that you seek to criticise.

Thomas said...
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Thomas said...

If Camra refuseses to dispense a beer which is better in keg format than that is rejecting choice. Camra is offereing one marekt of dispense only with cask conditioning.

Have you seen Camra's promotions towards young people and women? I think it's rather embaressing. Women don't drink beer because they think it will give them a gut. This is an image which the architypical Camra advocate portrays.

Anonymous said...

Colin Valentine wasn't elected as Chairman. The chair of CAMRA seems to emerge from the National Executive via some kind of magic circle process. NE elections as often as not are uncontested.

Beeron said...

Slagging off what Valentine said isn't the same as slagging off CAMRA. People want there to be an effective relevant organisation championing good beer in Britain and want CAMRA to evolve.
Maybe in ten or fifteen years time if CAMRA's membership has nosedived to such an extent that they are no longer such an organisation, they might realise that the "Blogerati" had a point, but by then it will be too late.

Owen said...

Anonymous : Saying Colin wasn't elected as chairman is technically true in that he was appointed by the National Executive, but he was elected to that executive. That's the way the CAMRA structure works. If you want to change that, then all you have to do is propose a motion at the AGM (and find a second) and put it to the vote.

@Beeron -- Membership is showing no sign of nosediving, with exponential growth the current pattern. Why you think it will is a mystery.

@Thomas -- I've never found a beer that was better in keg format. Of course, some beers simply aren't available in cask and so a direct comparison isn't possible; how can you can claim any of those beers are "better in keg" having never tasted them from cask?

Barm said...

If American brewers feel that their beer is ruined by cask-conditioning it, why are they doing it in ever increasing numbers?

It is really an insult to brewers like Victory, Troegs, Allagash, Stone etc. to suggest that they put their beer in an unflattering format just because they're scared of CAMRA. Do you really believe the likes of Greg Koch or Bill Covaleski would compromise on beer quality just to sell a few firkins to the GBBF?

Owen said...

You can add Brewdog to that list. Their stated policy of only serving keg in their bars is because they believe it is better in keg, and that cask damages the flavour.

Paying to have a brewery bar at GGBF and supplying cask is therefore somewhat contradictory to their stance that they won't compromise on beer quality.

One or the other is misleading. You choose.

Thomas said...

@Owen, I'm not saying they're better in keg, I'm saying certain styles are more appropriate for keg. I know a lot of uk bars have problems serving keg as they are knowledable on cask not keg. The best beers in the world are served with keg format in Denmark; Belgium and the US and the micros in London such as the exceptional Camden Town and Kernel breweries.

I'm not demonising cask, that's not the point of my post, my point is there is exceptional beer which is keg conditioned which Camra just don't know about, even though they sold keg dispensed beers bottle conditioned at their festival such as the Mikkeller single hop ipa's.

I go to festivals domestically and abroad and can safely say keg is not stuck in the 1970s. Mini keg dispensing systems are awesome.

Thomas said...

@Barm, that's not the point. The beers they sent to GBBF where keg dispensed beers. There is an emergence of cask conditioning which is new which is what they are realising. I am not anti-cask please re-read my posts. I am fed up with ignorance of keg as keg is a good way to serve some styles. Other styles are best with cask, especially mild but please recognise that keg is fine for beer. It's not that gassy, go to Rake and have some keg beer and you'll see what I'm on about.

Thomas said...

@Owen. The beers they sent to GBBF were suited for keg. If you would have had these bottled conditioned which I have had then you would have noticed the difference in taste.

You don't know what I've consumed and what I've had so you can't judge me like that. Brewdog use both formats for whichever is best suited for that beer which is entirely the point I am making and you are failing to read.

Hardcore ipa should be kegged. Mild should be casked. This is the point Camra are missing. Double IPA's do not hold up so well in cask format.

They need a bit of kick and to do this they need a slight gass top up. It is healthy for the beer. It just gives them a little lift. That's all. With cask you can not do this and this is why double ipas are FLAT with cask.