50 years of CAMRA: Celebrating 50 years of the Campaign for Real Ale

Featuring interviews with CAMRA’s founders, members past and present, and noted industry figures, and reflecting on both how the organisation came to be and the challenges it faces in its future, this is the inside story of the first 50 years of the Campaign for Real Ale.

It was rather a boozy, jokey, jolly, frolicking week which at the outset no one had any idea of creating something like CAMRA. Then, just off the Blasket Islands on the west coast of Ireland, we scrawled out the acronym CAMRA on the beach, in March, with the wind blowing sideways. We retired to a pub to drink Guinness and didn’t think much more about it. From that, to now, is quite an achievement… I think it’s all been worthwhile.

Graham Lees – founder member

CAMRA’s greatest strength has always lain within the ranks of its membership.  No other organisation I can think of has ever had such a broad appeal to people at every point on every spectrum of society, bringing people together who would never otherwise have even passed the time of day with each other; people of all ages, background, financial circumstances, occupations, educational backgrounds and even religions. So refreshing. A common cause that united everyone regardless.

James Lynch – organiser of the first Great British Beer Festival


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About The Author

Laura Hadland

Laura Hadland

Currently researching and writing the official biography of CAMRA in readiness for their 50th anniversary in March 2021.

  • Eleven years of food and drink blogging as The Extreme Housewife
  • Five years of freelance food and drink writing for local press
  • Regular contributor to food and drink debates on BBC Radio Leicester
  • Deliver beer and wine tastings and food pairing sessions, including the tour and tasting offer at Rothley Wine Estate where I have been a volunteer for nearly 5 years
  • Three years of running Thirst Media, a creative agency that offers content creation, marketing and PR, photography and graphic design. We work with a range of small businesses including a number of breweries, pubs and bars
  • WSET Level 3 trained

What you can offer as a writer/beer lover?

I love beer because of the people it brings me into contact with. Passionate microbrewers, dedicated landlords, and enthusiastic regulars. I despair when we are told that Britain has no food culture, because our heritage in beer is unsurpassed. So I am dedicated to communicating what is great about beer to the wider public. Flavours, innovation but also fantastic stories deserve to be shared.

When four young friends went on a drinking holiday to Ireland in March 1971, they had no idea that their idle notion of starting a campaign to push for better beer choice would capture the public mood and grow into Europe’s biggest single-issue consumer movement. In its landmark 50th year, CAMRA celebrates how a group of beer lovers turned an industry on its head, saved this country’s unique beer style, for and became the voice of the beer, cider and perry consumer.
  • Publisher : Camra Books (16 Mar. 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1852493690
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1852493691
The following corrections to 50 Years of CAMRA have been brought to our attention and we apologise to any individuals affected by the error.
  • On page 160 Mike Benyon is mispelled as Bennion
  • On page 217 Leif Mills has been incorrectly named Reece Mills. He was a member of the MMC rather than the chair.
  • On page 232 John Grogan MP has been incorrectly named John Groby MP.