Cambridge CAMRA in February

Branch socials

2022’s branch socials commence on Thursday (27 January) when we’ll hold a Thursday Social at the Castle Inn, on Castle Street. Thursday Socials are a new initiative for our branch. They differ from our strolling socials as they only feature one pub and clearly they are on Thursdays rather than a Saturday. They also differ from branch monthly meetings as there’ll be no business that needs to be discussed. It’s just about having a drink and a chat. Another new feature of our Thursday Socials is that the venues will be selected by female members though they are open for all members to attend. Hillary chose the Castle Inn. The following Thursday Social will be on Thursday 31 March (date and venue to be confirmed).

Our first Strolling Social of 2022 will be on Saturday 19 February and will visit the pubs at Cambridge Rail Station and across the tracks in Romsey Town. For up to date information check our website.

Branch AGM

After a year when we were unable to hold one, we have our 2022 Annual General Meeting from 8 on Tuesday 22 February in the NCI Centre on Holland Street. The AGM will hear reports from our branch officers, will elect the committee members and officers to run the branch for the next year and of course it’s also a chance to socialise. All branch members are welcome to attend. Although we always welcome new volunteers, you won’t be pressed-ganged to do more.

Our branch, like our beer festivals, is run by volunteers. We are very grateful to everyone who chips in. Many hands don’t just make light work, they also mean that we can cover more things and do things to a better standard. There are many roles that you could be involved in at branch or beer festival level. Delivering magazines, checking planning applications, taking part in beer tastings, lobbying politicians, checking the accuracy of our pubs’ WhatPub entries, improving the eco-friendliness of our beer festivals, serving on bars. If you’d like to help our branch to do more, please email our chairman, Will. If you’d like to get involved in our beer festivals email our volunteering team.

Inclusivity, Diversity and Equality (IDE) Review

We’ve all heard clichés about CAMRA members. Certainly such members do exist but they are definitely not a true representation of the vast majority of CAMRA members that I know and they are certainly not a prerequisite for enjoying cask and other beers. Enjoying good beer is open to all adults. Last year CAMRA launched it’s IDE Review to look at our existing equality and diversity policies and processes, to identify what we are doing well and where there are gaps, weaknesses or improvements that should be made. CAMRA is currently running (until 14 February) an open consultation that any CAMRA member or interested member of the public can take part in. Please contribute to CAMRA’s IDE Review here.

Beer tasting panel

Drinking beer isn’t the only thing that CAMRA members do but it is certainly close to our hearts. But as well as drinking it, we also discuss its qualities. Is it well brewed, with a good recipe? What do those aromas and flavours remind us of? Has the beer been properly cared for? Is the beer worthy of an award? CAMRA branches across the county run tasting events to sample beers brewed both locally and further afield and Cambridge branch is no exception. It’s not just about drinking the styles of beer you prefer but being able to drink and assess many styles of beer. Only beers that have been tasted and assessed by branch tasting panels will be described in future editions of the Good Beer Guide. Is this something that you’d like to be involved in? CAMRA runs courses that will teach you more about various beer styles and how to assess them. Once you have done a course you will be eligible to take part in one of our branch beer tastings. If this interests you, let Will know and he’ll tell you more.

Good Beer Guide

Many thanks to everyone who nominated the pubs they thought should be considered for inclusion in the 2023 edition of the Good Beer Guide. We have used your nominations and also CAMRA members’ beer scores to draw up a shortlist of 58 pubs. We now need members of our branch and of adjoining branches to select which of these will be our 26 entries in the Guide. To do so you need to tell us what you think of the shortlisted pubs that you have visited in the last 6 months. We use an easy 5 point grading system. The best way for you to give your opinion is online using your CAMRA login details. You can revise your opinions as many times as you wish up until the deadline of 10 April. You can also request the shortlist and submit your opinions by email (please include your name and CAMRA membership number).

One To Try

CAMRA is rejigging its Real Ale in a Bottle scheme. It will not only cover bottles but also cans or any other small sealed container brewers may wish to use for beer containing live yeast and which undergoes secondary fermentation in the container. The revised scheme is called One To Try and its logo will replace the former CAMRA says this is Real Ale logo. The scheme might not have the snappiest name but it is much easier for brewers to apply for, and its free! The brewer just needs to assure CAMRA that their beer contains above a minimum level of live yeast and that it also contains enough fermentable sugar to allow secondary fermentation to occur. If you’re a brewer and want to apply or know more, contact CAMRA’s Campaigns team.

Pubs aren’t just for Christmas

The winter months have always been crucial for publicans, even more so this time round. December’s trade, which normally gives pubs the resources to see out the lean months of January and February, was hit by caution over the omicron variant of Covid-19. Andy Wood, Adnams chief executive, reported a 50% drop in visitors to pubs and hotels before Christmas. As a result, the next few months will be crucial for many licensees. Let’s hope that the early 2022 months buck the usual trend this time round or else some pubs which have been struggling may not be open by Easter. If you are taking part in Dry January, please do so without hurting your pub. All pubs serve alcohol free drinks and you can still eat at most of them.

Beer scoring

Many thanks to all our members who have been scoring their beers recently. In the five weeks to 24 January, of the pubs with multiple scores, the Maypole on Portugal Place and the Chestnut Tree, West Wratting are the city and rural pubs with the highest averages. The new Milton Brewery Tap (aka the China Ship Inn) at its brewery in Waterbeach also scored very highly in December but it is currently closed until the spring. 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. WhatPub can also be used to give us feedback on pubs. If you spot that the pub description is inaccurate or the opening hours are wrong, click on “Submit Updates” and let us know.

Future events

Thursday 27 January. Thursday Throng Social from 7.30 at the Castle Inn on Castle Street.

Thursday 3 February. Blue Moon, Norfolk Street. Tap Takeover and Meet the Brewer with Ampersand.

Tuesday 8 February from 8pm. open branch meeting at the Cambridge Brew House, King Street.

Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February. Ely and District CAMRA’s 12th Elysian Winter Beer Festival at the Maltings, Ely.

Saturday 19 February. Strolling Social at Cambridge Station and in Romsey. Check our website for up to date details.

Tuesday 22 February from 8pm. Branch Annual General Meeting at the NCI, Holland Street.

Tuesday 8 March from 8pm. Open Branch Meeting at the Punter, Pound Hill.

Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 March. Huntingdonshire CAMRA’s Booze on the Ouse at the Priory Centre, St Neots.