What is CAMRA?

CAMRA is an independent, voluntary, consumer organisation. Membership is open to all individuals, but corporate entities such as breweries and pubs are not members. CAMRA is governed by a voluntary unpaid national executive, elected by the membership. There is a small professional staff of fourteen responsible for central campaigning, research, administration of membership, sales and so forth.

How is CAMRA Financed?

CAMRA is financed through membership subscriptions, sales of products such as books and sweatshirts, and from the proceeds of beer festivals. We receive no funding from the brewing industry other than a limited amount of advertising in our monthly newspaper "What's Brewing". It is a not for profit company limited by members guarantee and our accounts are lodged annually with Companies House.

CAMRA's Objectives

CAMRA's mission is to act as champion of the consumer in relation to the UK and European beer and drinks industry. It aims to:

Maintain consumer rights

Promote quality, choice and value for money

Support the public house as a focus of community life

Campaign for greater appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of national heritage and culture

Seek improvements in all licensed premises and throughout the brewing industry

CAMRA also seeks to promote real cider and perry through a sub-organisation called APPLE. Like ale, these are traditional British drinks and like ale, the traditional product is very different from the 'dead' version.

Campaigning

While CAMRA is a single industry group, it has a very wide area of campaigning interests. At present campaigns we are actively pursuing include the following:

Improved competition and choice in the brewing industry

Preserving the British pub and defending licensees from eviction by pub owners

Seeking a fairer tax system for smaller brewers

Seeking fuller information about the beer we drink, such as ingredients labelling

A fundamental reform of licensing law

Fighting take-overs and mergers

Encouraging higher standards of pub design

Encouraging brewers to produce a wide range of beer styles such as porter, mild and stout, in addition to their bitters

CAMRA Success


CAMRA saved real ale, it is no exaggeration to say, and as a result saved many independent breweries. No new ale breweries were set up in the UK for the fifty years before we were founded. There are now around 300 new brewers producing real ale, part of a massive real ale revival.


Our membership has increased since 1971 to nearly 170,000. The two growth areas in the beer market are for premium lagers and real ales, as we see a more discerning drinker.


CAMRA has defeated several brewery take-overs and were successful in seeing more liberal licensing laws introduced in England, Scotland and Wales. CAMRA also got the brewers to declare the strengths of their beers, and are close to success in seeing listing of beer ingredients. CAMRA campaign against the closure of local pubs or their destruction through refurbishment. For many years CAMRA has sought fundamental change in the industry to protect consumer choice. The introduction of a guest real ale in pubs of the national brewers is a victory for fifteen years of campaigning.


How does CAMRA campaign?


A hard-hitting newspaper, "What's Brewing", is produced monthly, which goes free to our members, the brewery trade and the media. It plays a major role in informing beer drinkers and putting across our views.


The aim is not just to be critical. Through numerous books, guides, awards and presentations, good practice is praised and high standards encouraged, whether in brewing, pub cellarmanship, pub design or simply running a good pub. The Great British Beer Festival, The Good Beer Guide, the Champion Beer of Britain Awards and the Pub of the Year are all national in scope, but 180 local branches run local festivals and awards, and produce their own local guides.


It is important to realise that CAMRA is a decentralised organisation, and most of its work is done by volunteers at local level, reinforcing national drives.


CAMRA campaigns against brewery take-overs because they lead to brewery closures, loss of established beers, higher prices and reduced choice. Such campaigns are a good example of the way things are done. Lively and sometimes controversial campaigns are mounted at local level, with backup from headquarters. MPs, councillors, trade unions, licensees and workers might be involved. Tactics that have been used include petitions, threatened boycotts, publicity stunts, marches, laying wreaths outside closed breweries and so forth.


Nationally CAMRA makes submissions to the shareholders, and to regulatory authorities such as the Office of Fair Trading and the Monopoly and Mergers Commission, and, for very large mergers, the European Commission.


Regular local beer festivals play a major role not just as fund raisers but also to keep people informed about CAMRA's work, and the vast range of beers that are still available. This continuous background work has doubtless helped change attitudes towards real ale.


Nationally, the 1989 MMC investigation represents the culmination of years of CAMRA lobbying, on the higher prices charged by the big brewers, on local monopolies and the abuses of power they produce, on pub closures and on a host of restrictive practices. CAMRA has been putting the consumer case forward before, during and after the enquiry, at the highest levels of government.


CAMRA in Europe


CAMRA also lobbies at European level - the Commissions competition division is always interested in the tied house system, reform of the UK excise duty system will require EC approval, European legislation affects ingredients, labelling and other such issues.


CAMRA is a founder member of the European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU) which brings together independent voluntary consumer groups from the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland to lobby for drinkers interests at a European level.


CAMRA Members Investment Club


Have you ever wished that you owned part of a brewery or one of the many pub chains that have emerged recently? Well now you have the opportunity of turning that dream into reality. If you are an existing member of CAMRA , you are eligible to join the CAMRA Members Investment Club.


For a minimum of five pounds per month you could start making an investment in the many companies in which the Club holds shares.


The Club operates like a unit trust and members can pay in a fixed sum each month from £5 up to a maximum of £83. Payments can also be made annually, (£60 minimum and £1,000 maximum) all by standing order from your bank. The amount can be altered at any time and, if necessary, can be stopped and you investment left to "ride". Alternatively your investment can be cashed in.


By holding a growing share in a particular company, the Club's votes at their annual general meetings could make a difference to either a take-over bid or other hostile actions. Having a voice in the Boardrooms of the pub owning groups, could help influence their beer policies which is becoming increasingly important in the market where the smaller breweries are competing with the giants.


Dividends received from the profits of all companies are reinvested in more shares. All rights issues are normally taken up to maintain holdings.


For members benefits, the CAMRA Members Investment Club organises tours of breweries in which it has shares. These visits normally present the opportunity of meeting some of the Directors of the company as well as viewing their brewing operations.


A quarterly report is distributed free to all members of the Club. This includes details of the investments that are held, updated unit price, financial news, forthcoming purchases, brewery visits and dates, and other interesting information, including the opportunity for members of the club to voice their opinions.


Each year the club holds a lunch for members at which there is a guest speaker from the Industry.


* Please note that the value of shares can go down as well as up and any investment should be regarded as medium to long term.*


Any Other Questions?


Please don't hesitate to get in touch.


CAMRA - The Campaign for Real Ale,

230 Hatfield Road,

St. Albans,

Herts AL1 4LW

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