Alex Metcalfe, Information and Education Manager from CAMRA chats to us about their leading role in Craft Beer education. 

Last year CAMRA voted to “play a leading role in the provision of information, education and training to all those with an interest in beer, cider and perry of any type” – a decision that has become increasingly important in light of recent reports that find consumers are increasingly bewildered by the range of choice they face when ordering at the bar.

In 2017 SIBA found that 60% of consumers care about who makes their beer and expect more clarity regarding provenance. SIBA recently published new research suggesting that 98% of consumers don’t believe that beers brewed by the largest beer companies in the world can be considered ‘craft’ beer. For the individual looking for a truly local or artisan beer experience, a real ale might well fit the bill in more cases than not.

In response to such consumer needs CAMRA is developing a new educational element to our beer festivals across the country to help educate beer drinkers about where their beer comes from, the processes, ingredients and people behind their favourite drinks.

Our first event took place at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival in January, where we set up an education stand to showcase the hops and malts that go into brewing, to talk about different beer styles and forms of dispense. James Hardwick from Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. guided festival goers through tasting their Kentucky Riot Stout sampled from both cask and keg, and gave us an industry perspective on the brew. We also provided information about our latest campaigns and publications to raise awareness of what’s going on in the beer world.

We aimed to provide unbiased, technically accurate information in an informal and hands-on setting. The response to our pilot in Manchester was overwhelmingly positive. Many festival-goers shared their support and encouraged us to continue building and expanding our educational activities.

I’m so thankful to the festival organisers and volunteers who made the success of the pilot possible and who will be vital to the future of CAMRA’s educational programme. As we look toward the rest of 2019, I’m excited to help CAMRA provide more educational experiences for beer, cider and perry drinkers, with Thanet, Cambridge and the Great British Beer Festival on the horizon.

Education is key for CAMRA, and we welcome any thoughts, feedback and opportunities for collaboration from the independent brewing and pubs industry. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch on alex.metcalfe@camra.org.uk