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CAMRA Cancels BrewDog’s Bar at the Great British Beer Festival

on 29/07/11 at 12:51 pm


Back in May, we announced that we would be attending the GBBF in August. We had came to an agreement with CAMRA to have a bar serving kegged our beers at the festival. We signed the contract and paid the deposit.  We agreed to work together with CAMRA, put past differences behind us, and try and introduce something new and exciting to the Great British Beer Festival.  We feel the festival lacks the stylistic diversity amongst domestic brewers that makes craft beer great. It is easy to get lost in a sea of boring, lightly hopped bland cask ales at the festival and we were determined to change that.

Foreign keg beers have always been present at the GBBF so it seems strange that CAMRA, in their infinite wisdom, would apply different rules to domestic, rather than overseas participants. We are sure this violates EU law as well as being deeply flawed. It was not easy initially, getting them to allow us to attend with keg rather than cask beer. Ironic that if Scotland was independent, we would qualify as foreign and could serve anything we wanted there.

During the course of the discussion we were able to satisfy CAMRA and Ralph Warrington, Chair of the wonderfully named ‘Technical Advisory Group’ that our draft beer does indeed contain 0.1 million living yeast cells per ml. Our kegged and bottled beers are only lightly filtered (around 5-7 micron), unpasteurized and the bulk of the carbonationisation comes from CO2 created during the initial fermentation which occurs under pressure.  Despite this, a subject of our attendance was that our beers were going to be tested by an onsite laboratory (I did not know they had one!) and if they did not meet the CAMRA definition of ale, they ‘would not be sold, then returned as ullage, not paid for and our bar cancelled’.

This begs the killer question; who actually cares is a beer contains at least 0.1 million living yeast cells per millilitres? Surely this is not the definition of good beer. For us great beer is great beer regardless of if it is bottle, cask, can, keg. Regardless of if it is bottle conditioned, carbonated during the initial fermentation or carbonated prior to packaging. Give me a Stone IPA (which is carbonated) any day over a fundamentally pedestrian cask bitter.


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