Guest column: Drinks all round at Gainsborough Old Hall

The annual beer festival returns to Gainsborough Old Hall next week
The annual beer festival returns to Gainsborough Old Hall next week

Next week sees the start of the ninth annual beer festival at Gainsborough Old Hall, in Association with the Gainsborough Branch of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).

There will be more than 60 beers, ciders and perrys to sample.

These will range from Lincolnshire Brewing’s Spicy Sausage which has a spicy, herby taste, to the more floral, Keep on Dreaming by Green Duck, a summer ale, with flavours of lemongrass and coconut.

The festival opens on Thursday, October 19 and runs through until Saturday, October 21.

There will be live music in the medieval kitchen on the Friday evening and throughout Saturday, accompanied by the roar of the open fire.

But who are CAMRA and what do they stand for?

​CAMRA was formed in March 1971 by four men from the north west who were disillusioned by the domination of the UK beer market by a handful of companies pushing products that they felt were of low flavour, and overall low quality, on to the consumer.

Many brewers during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s had made the decision to move away from producing traditional beers which continued to ferment in the cask from which they were served, and such a move was opposed by Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Jim Makin and Bill Mellor, all of whom thought it was about time British beer drinkers were given better variety and choice.

With this in mind, it was inside the westernmost pub in Europe, along the Kerry coast of Ireland, where the first foundations of the CAMRA were laid. With the quartet appointing themselves as secretary (Lees), treasurer (Makin), events organiser (Mellor) and chairman (Hardman), the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale was born on March 16, 1971.

While the newly formed campaign’s name was altered at the AGM in 1973 to the now universally recognised Campaign for Real Ale, CAMRA’s core aims to promote real ale and pubs, as well as acting as the consumer’s champion in relation to the UK and European beer and drinks industry, remain to this day.

Following the formation of the campaign and the first AGM – at the Rose Inn, Nuneaton in 1972 – where early membership records consisted of the four founders and their friends, interest in CAMRA and its objectives spread rapidly, with 5,000 members signed up by the following year.

Today, CAMRA has more than 183,000 members across the world, and has been described as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe.