Fear not, the land of lagers and ales has a Robin Hood. While there is no direct thievery from wealthy big business breweries, the Campaign for Real Ale is the voice for microbreweries and consumers the world over.

Unsurprisingly based in the U.K., CAMRA has only 14 paid employees. The organization relies on the good-hearted–or possibly alcoholically self-interested–actions of over 50,000 worldwide volunteers. As crusaders for the perfect pint, the perfect pub and preferential tax treatment for small producers, CAMRA has achieved some stellar results through their lobbying efforts. This is evidenced by stricter legislation of pubs and beer producers in the U.K., an explosion of new breweries (over 300 in the past 25 years) and countless thwarted mergers and local pubs saved.

In recent years they have shifted their focus to Europe and the European Union, lobbying to get the same kind of relaxed licensing laws and small producer-friendly legislation attained in the UK.

In another effort to help preserve and promote up and coming breweries, CAMRA even has their own investment club. For a monthly rate of five to 83 pounds, anyone can become a shareholder in over a dozen hand-selected producers.

Despite the fact that the bulk of their success has been in the UK, CAMRA is rapidly becoming a truly international organization with chapters in over a dozen different countries. While there is no Calgary chapter (yet), there are locals in Victoria and Toronto.

Interested? Visit CAMRA’s Web site at

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