Join the fight for real ale

By Lawrence Bailey

It seems that everyone and their dog has a special interest or lobby group that from time to time makes it to page 13 of the local paper. Usually these are articles those not affiliated with such groups pass over (and for good reason). I am pleading with all of you–make an exception just this once.

There is a silent but powerful lobby out there; a campaign with the interests of all people, young and old alike, at heart. I am not a member, just an awestruck admirer who wants to do what he can to raise awareness. I am referring to the noble men and women of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

CAMRA is a British-based group that fights for the salvation of real ale. As a result, it is now illegal in the U.K. to serve an improper pint (that is, a pint less than 20 ounces and with more than a one-quarter inch of head). They are not affiliated with any public house or breweries and, save 14 permanent paid positions, they are entirely supported by the volunteer time put forth by their members. In an age when Standard Poodle Appreciation Societies and the Assembly of Peoples to Eradicate Horseradish are garnering minimal amounts of media attention it is an absolute travesty that the indispensable work done by the fine people at CAMRA goes overlooked and underappreciated.

Think of all the times you’ve sat down, hotly anticipating the cool, refreshing rush of that glorious, carbonated lifeblood only to receive a glass of lukewarm liquid that’s half full of foam. The nightmares that follow we know all too well. The long hours spent tossing and turning in bed, not because you had a dozen such drinks, no, but because you felt helpless to stop the madness. Think of all the times you wracked your brain trying to think of some way to change it once and for all. Well, here’s your chance.

I am hereby issuing a call to arms, yes, a true cause for the youthful and apathetic. Raise your pint glasses in unison now and heed my call for the establishment of a Calgary chapter. We have suffered the slings and arrows of shabby product and presentation long enough. It is time, my friends, to take matters into our own hands. We must fight the good fight against such swill-mongers as Molson and Labatt. The time has come and the onus is on each and every one of us to do what we know in our hearts (and hazy hungover minds) is right. It is our civic responsibility to set in motion the move for the establishment of the first Alberta chapter of CAMRA. Together I know we can overcome.

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