Pub debate returns for another round

The Hopbunker pub on Queen Street is set to host another edition of the UK Beer Debate following the success of the inaugural event last year.

Industry experts, journalists, brewers and pub enthusiasts of all sorts came together at last year’s event after the International Manchester Beer Convention turned sour.

“The discussion lost its way somewhat and became rather heated and volatile!” said Waen Brewery’s Sue Hayward, on the Manchester event. “On my return, I decided to sort another and revisit the issues.”

Naturally, tickets to the event entitle audience members to a half-pint of one of the many local ales on offer.

Following the success of the first debate, Sue’s looking forward to this year’s edition on 26 November, which will focus on the hotly disputed reform plans at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

“It’s become such a heated issue as so many breweries are now vying for trade,” said Sue. “Some craft breweries see CAMRA as supporting the pubs buying cheap beer and not fully understanding the intricacies of newer style brewing.”

Many breweries, including Sue’s own Waen Brewery, have had to close in the past few years following an influx of cheaper brews that have quite literally oversaturated the market. And with the recent rise in the number of craft ales, some have questioned whether CAMRA should broaden its scope.

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Recent years have seen an explosion of beer styles, variety and choice.

The organisation, which has always championed cask-matured ales and the traditional British pub, announced in 2016 that they were planning a ‘Revitilisation Project’ to review their purpose. There are even suggestions that they have achieved their initial goals and are therefore no longer relevant, though this is also fiercely rebuked.

“Real ale and pubs have a unique and personal synergy,” said Julian Grocock, former chief executive at SIBA. “I do not accept that our greatest ever consumer movement’s relevance has been superseded by the modern craft industry – and I will explain my reasoning at the debate!”