CAMAL was originally founded on 12th November, 1986, by a number of individuals concerned about the poor quality of draught lager available in the UK and the lack of promotion that genuine lagers, wherever brewed, were being given by mainstream breweries and existing beer organisations within the UK. Since then, it has developed globally and had members in North America and Hong Kong and still retains membership in Europe. Since its formation, regular meetings have been held at selected venues in and around London to enjoy authentic lager, meet other members and discuss campaigning issues. Once a year, an Annual General Meeting is held where the year’s campaigning is reviewed and policy changes ratified. As membership is widened, the yearly newsletters are an important means of exchanging information and imparting the latest campaigning news. The newsletter seeks to provide information on authentic lager in the UK and report on other beer styles available elsewhere in Europe and around the world.
Its remit has since expanded to encompass all foreign beer styles by supporting those pubs in the UK which specialise in such brews and breweries which give greater prominence to them. The contribution made by our first Chairman, Geoff Broadley, is recognised in the current mantra for CAMAL:
Its enduring mission: to explore all world breweries; to seek out real foreign beers and good continental bars; to broadley go where no beer hunter has been before.
Invariably, CAMAL has organised annual visits to the Continent and around the world in order to sample local beer styles and investigate the beer scene there. Over the years, members have built up a considerable knowledge of the great brewing regions of Europe and beyond. At the same time, CAMAL’s aim is to forge links with local organisations and lend support to maintenance of the indigenous brewing heritage. The resurgence of bières artisanal, commonly (and wrongly) referred to as ‘craft’ ales in the English-speaking world, has accompanied CAMAL’s interest in making direct approaches to brewers and UK importers of lager and other locale beer styles. Members have made the Campaign’s views known by visiting breweries and have attended trade fairs in the capacity of representatives of a consumer organisation. The launch of new authentic lagers and other artisanal beers in the UK has been monitored with interest by members.
CAMAL’s view regarding the ongoing debate regarding so-called 'craft' beers is that all brewing is essentially 'craft'; there can be both good and bad real ales as well as good and bad keg products. In other words, the production of all beer, excluding mass-produced keg products but including real ale and bières artisanal (wherever brewed in the world), is ‘craft’ ale and that the use of terms (such as ‘craft’) solely to describe the new breed of lager and other styles increasingly available in the UK (particularly by proponents of tasty, albeit keg, beers such as those by Brew Dog, Calvor's, Ellenberg and Steel City) is potentially misleading – in seeking to avoid usage of such terminology, CAMAL seeks to differentiate between these products and 'real' ales by referring to craft draught beer (where a secondary fermentation occurs in the cask or the bottle) and craft tap beers (where pasteurisation in the keg or bottle has occurred). The Campaign therefore aims to support greater appreciation of foreign beer styles where these can be enjoyed alongside, but not to the detriment or diminished availability of, the indigenous beer of the UK, that is, real ale.