Letter: Trouble brewing

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Oh dear. It seems The Independent's writers have had a nitro-keg beer too many. In an article highlighting the "decline" of cask-conditioned beers, Kathy Marks states that real ale sales are falling and that the image associated with Camra is of bearded, wooly-jumpered, overweight men ("Britain's little breweries die out as young drinkers spurn their real ale", 5 June).

This seems to contradict your recent report on the top 50 festivals in the world (8 May) which highlighted Camra's yearly Great British Beer Festival, held at Olympia in August, and which fairly stated that Camra has rebuilt its image around a sharper, more professional approach. We are busy working to reduce excise duty, liberalise licensing hours, instigate choice over GM food and increase local transport links for rural areas which are cut off from their local centres of community, namely the village pub.

In relation to the claim that cask beers are declining in sales, regional brewers such as Fullers in London have seen real ale sales rise by 11 per cent this year. If, as admittedly they are, breweries are closing, then it is because the "big five" brewers have employed their vast advertising and marketing resources to drive out the smaller brewer and strangle the avaliability of traditional British beers. This poses an unparelelled threat to competition and consumer choice.

DAVID HAWKINS

Public Affairs Manager

The Camapaign for Real Ale

St. Albans, Hertfordshire

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