Minor British Institutions: The campaign for Real Ale

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The Independent Online

Obviously you don't have to have a big beer belly peeking out from your real-ale festival T-shirt to be a member of Camra – but it helps. It's also true that there are lots of real-ale bores (just as there are wine bores too), but none of this detracts from the import and enjoyability of Camra's long crusade to save decent British beer and habitable, proper pubs.

Its efforts are needed now more than ever. The campaign began in 1971, in the most westerly pub in Europe, Kruger's Bar in Co Kerry, when four young men from the north-west of England, Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Bill Mellor and Jim Makin, were on holiday.

Fed up with the poor quality of British beer – too fizzy, with no character and no taste – they formed the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale, soon to become the snappier Campaign for Real Ale. Camra now boasts more than 100,000 members, an investment club and the indispensable Good Beer Guide to pubs, breweries, food and ales. Mine's a pint.

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