Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kidnapped by CAMRA

I went to my first CAMRA meeting on Tuesday. I've always been vaguely opposed to the organization. Not for any mature, rational reason, of course. But because I used to read the "Real Ale Twats" Viz comic strip, and because Pete Brown's observations of his local CAMRA members portray them every bit as arrogant and anally-retentive as the comic.

This blogging lark has brought me into contact with many a member of Victoria's CAMRA and I've found them all to be disappointingly pleasant and fun. I suppose that some CAMRA chapters defined themselves during some real struggles with the imminent death of cask ale, and are rightly very proud of their successful revival of the craft. But pride sours into self-importance in many of us, which probably explains Brown's anecdotes of deplorable CAMRA capes.

CAMRA Victoria is no stranger to success. Constant campaigning and promotion has  certainly contributed to the thriving cask scene on the island. But our chapter comes across as a much more easy-going club for beer-lovers, providing a passable excuse for board members to duck out of the house once a month and get plastered in the name of a good cause. I'm all for that.

I attended the Victoria Annual General Meeting mostly in the capacity of a wannabe journalist, hoping to score a story for our BeerOnTheRock website or our monthly Monday Magazine article. I also suspected (correctly) that, seeing as it was hosted at Swan's, there'd be a free beer or two in it for me. Little did I know how the evening would end...

I sat with maybe 40-50 jocular CAMRA members, including Dave and a handful of other beer friends, and watched the yearly report and election of board members with interest. It was nice when President Glen Stusek gave us props for our blog and Monday article. I sat there with a pseudo air of journalistic objectivity, but I found myself getting into it. The talkers were charming, the mood was great, and that Swans Yuletide Ale was going down very well indeed.

After the first round of presentations, we were given a ten minute break that warped into twenty-five minutes of swift drinking and talking with home brewers, brewery reps, and flirtatious septuagenarians. We got a lot of interest for Ian's proposed Vancouver Island beer tour. Armed with a Swans Extra IPA each Dave and I sat down for the membership vote.

CAMRA's membership in Victoria is up to the high 200s — which is fairly impressive for a city of our size, and marks a steady increase. That said, as the voting progressed it became apparent that a few members had stepped down after long periods on the board, and there were one or two positions left to be filled. "How are CAMRA going to pull this one off?" I thought, as the president repeatedly appealed for someone to step forward as Secretary. But soon enough someone volunteered. I'm not sure he'd operated a computer before, but raised his glass with confidence and the crowd roared their approval.

After a few more votes, they were calling for Directors-at-Large — the final positions needing to be filled. Dave, who had been out drinking for a good two hours longer than I, told me to nominate him. Drunker than I realized I was, I shouted "Dave!" — possibly before the president had finished asking for votes. Dave was hilariously voted in.

I rocked back in my chair and laughed a bit. How had Dave got himself into this mess? I thought. I drained my IPA and heard my name being called out. I was being asked to be a Director-at-Large as well. It was flattering, but I have my journalistic integrity to think about. So of course, I declined gracefully. Besides, I have no idea what a Director-at-Large actually is.

Somewhere inside me the booze-fueled self-destruction pixie shouted "fuck it".
"I'll do it!" I heard myself say.
They voted me in.
I'm officially a twat.

I suppose I had better get a membership now.

A twat


  1. Glad you overcame your instinctive distrust of CAMRA (the brand). Cheers for the Viz cartoon as well, BTW. Up until recently, it was well neigh impossible to be a CAMRA purist in BC, as cask ales were very few and far between. So we concentrated on quality only, regardless of style or cask/bottle conditioning. The mix of Anglos, Anglophiles and beer geeks in CAMRA Victoria is a happy one and we try not to forget that beer is something to be enjoyed, not obsessed over. So the "Asperger's syndrome trainspotters" are a definite minority on this side of the Atlantic. Welcome aboard and I hope to meet you at a meeting soon.

  2. So you are looking to rid your girl of these unwanted stalkers when you are drawn
    to Willow Creek's Black Mirror Castle. For adults, a virtual makeover of hair and makeup may be the equivalent of a little one hood game, with an improved style sensibility that tends to make the knowledge each entertaining and inspirational. You Divide everyone at the party into two groups, or tribes.

    Feel free to visit my weblog - massage

  3. Choose from the list of the best kayaks available and get value for your money.

    In water types, you can consider cold or warm water, waves
    volume and other related elements. So, make sure you stay hydrated, so that you do not tip off in fatigue while
    reaching the dock.

    Look into my blog :: fort worth hotels