Critics' Corner

Scotland's Micros, and the
Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)

By Duncan Woodhead, Glasgow, Scotland

Scotland is now a veritable haven for lovers of real ale, not only do we now have over 30 independent brewers, producing somewhere in the region of 60-70 different ales, Camra has had much to do with this. Guy DeStefano comments on the export of beers from GB to the US that it is because the real ale scene in Britain is dwindling. This is untrue. Last year approximately one new independent brewery opened every week (for the size and population of Britain, that's not bad).

Last year Camra had a membership topping 50,000 people, cementing the claim that Camra is now the most successful consumer organisation in the Europe. We not only have the Great British Beer Festival, but to incorporate Winter Brews we have a further National event, the Great British Winter Beer Festival, hosted the last two years by Glasgow.

Britain exports beers to the US not because there is no demand for them here, but because the superiority of the British beer is wholely unrivaled world-wide (well by except Belgium possibly). I commend American and Canadian micro brewers--I was particularly impressed by the Kingston Brewing Company in Kingston Ontario--but when you ask who the brewer is I tell you that he is an ex-Harrogate (North Yorkshire, England) Campaign for Real Ale branch member. His beers are marvelous, I have no doubt that beers from other N. American micros are equally as good, but for diversity and choice, only Belgium and Britain are truly world class.

I would welcome comments on my views, and if anyone requires any information regarding the British brewing industry I would happily assist. I have just completed a history of the Scottish Brewing industry as my 13000 undergraduate dissertation.