Cambridge CAMRA in May

Cask is back, so back cask

Pubs gradually reopen

Since 12 April pubs have been able to welcome us back to their outdoor spaces. It has been great to be back despite the weather not being ideal. It has been wonderful to see our friends from both sides of the bar and to drink cask beer again. I have enjoyed some marvellous bottled and canned beers and ciders over the past few months but freshly poured, well kept, real ale served by welcoming bar staff is a treat I have missed a great deal.

The majority of our rural pubs reopened in mid-April as most have outdoor space. By contrast, in the city most pubs have remained closed. This has made it difficult for people to find somewhere to drink. Many of the pubs that are open are taking bookings and finding a free table, even at times which aren’t traditionally busy, can be challenging. Our licensees and their staff are doing their best but sometimes, as much as they are pleased to see you, they are unable to help.

The early May bank holiday weekend has seen a handful more pubs reopen but most of those that have yet to do so will wait until restrictions allow pub interiors to reopen. Unless the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown changes that should be on Monday 17 May. From then on, the rule of six or two households with table service will apply indoors but up 30 people will be able to gather outside.

We continue to maintain our Covid-19: What Pubs Are Doing page. It lists pubs that have reopened and also those that are only offering takeaway services. This information also appears in the grey Updates box on each pub’s WhatPub entry. It’s a big task keeping this information up to date and your help is appreciated. If you spot inaccuracies or incomplete information please let us know either by email or via the Submit Updates function on WhatPub. Your feedback is valued at all times but especially so now as, step by step, we move towards more normal times.

Celebrating pubs in May and throughout the summer

In late May we would normally be enjoying the Cambridge Beer Festival on Jesus Green. For the second year running the Covid pandemic is preventing it from happening. Last year we went online and celebrated our local breweries and cidermakers. This year we’ll be celebrating Cambridge Beer Festival week with events in our pubs with online links for those who aren’t yet ready to return to them. We are encouraging our pubs, in the city and in villages, to do something that we can publicise to pub goers using our website and social media. To entice pubs to take part we are giving them new beer festival glasses which they can sell to you. We are very grateful to Gearset for sponsoring the glasses, allowing us to provide the glasses to pubs at no cost to them. Some pubswill be holding mini festivals, others might go for meet the brewer events or beer tastings. Some pubs may have a pool or darts tournament or hold a “Back to the Pubs” quiz night. Why not encourage your local to join in and have us publicize something that they are doing around 24–29 May. We are open to ideas – contact the festival team with suggestions.

Late May will be the beer festival in pubs but our fuller celebration of pubs reopening will take up much of the summer. We are planning a promotion of many of the pubs in the city of Cambridge in July and we’ll follow that up by promoting our rural pubs in August and September. Please help with this by encouraging your local to take part and emailing us with suggestions.

CAMRA beer festivals return

Although we are unable to run our beer festival in May some CAMRA branches are hoping to run festivals later in the year. One of the first could be the East Anglian Beer and Cider Festival which is organised by our neighbours, the West Suffolk and Borders branch. This year’s festival will be in Bury St. Edmunds Cathedral, Cloisters and Garth and will run from 25–30 August. Your CAMRA membership entitles you to a reduced entry fee.

The Pheasant, Great Chishill reopens

There’s good news for drinkers in the southwest of our branch area. The Pheasant in Great Chishill has reopened. Closed by its former owner in Autumn 2019, the Pheasant will now be run by Stuart and Jenna who also run the Woodman Inn just over the Hertfordshire border in Nuthampstead. The Woodman has a great reputation for its food and beer so we are very keen to visit the Pheasant.

Brewery news

Harston based brewery BrewBoard have plans to expand their brewery tap and also open a new Taproom in central Cambridge. The exact location is still hush hush. They are currently crowd funding and have already raised almost 70% of what they need.

Roughacre Brewery have relocated from their birthplace in Castle Camps to Clare Hall Barns, Clare. Although we are sad to see them move out of our branch area we are delighted that they will be able to increase production and also open their own taproom. We look forward to visiting Mark and Sarah there soon. They will still be delivering their beers, in bottles and flagons, to Cambridge and the other areas they have previously been delivering to.

Burwell Brewery recently brewed their first gluten free beer and are planning to make all their beers gluten free in future.

IVO Brewery that was founded last spring in Somersham are already looking to expand and relocate. Charlie and Jason don’t want to move too far but would consider crossing the Great Ouse into our branch area if the right place was available. They are looking for somewhere with around 1,000 sq ft of space but would prefer it if it wasn’t an industrial unit. If you have any suggestions, let them know.

Parliament wants your views

Have you ever wanted to give MPs a piece of your mind? Well, they are asking for it! The All Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs would like you to complete their online survey so that they can have your views on pubs.

Beer scoring

With pubs opening up, drinkers are starting to score beers once more. Since mid-April, beers in almost 40 pubs have been marked by CAMRA members. Of the pubs with multiple scores the Chestnut Tree in West Wratting and the Geldart on Ainsworth Street have the highest averages. Beer scoring is easy to do via the pub’s WhatPub entry. If you have a smart phone and internet access you can score while you drink. If not you can do it from home later. Your beer scores help us to discover which pubs are serving the best beer and also helps in selecting candidates for the Good Beer Guide.

Future events

  • Tuesday 11 May from 8. Virtual monthly open branch meeting and social. This meeting will be held on Zoom. Please email Steve, our branch secretary, if you’d like to attend.
  • Monday 17 May. Earliest date that pub interiors can reopen.
  • 24–29 May. 48th Cambridge Beer Festival, in pubs and online.
  • Tuesday 8 June from 8. Virtual monthly open branch meeting and social.
  • Monday 21 June. Planned date for further easing of social distancing restrictions.

The health of each other, our family, friends and our communities is incredibly import. Please support our NHS and continue to follow the advice given by Public Health England and the protocols each publican has formulated.