What a year it’s been.
I’m not sure where to begin.
2012 has been CAMRGB’s first full year and momentum has really gathered.
In fact I’ve been constantly blown away by how things have moved and grown, it’s actually been a little frightening at times.
So, here are some of the highlights of the year from my point of view.
I visited Greene King back at the beginning of the year and was warmly welcomed by very nice people who, in hindsight, had an agenda.
The agenda was to do a bit of marketing propaganda on me and, though their hospitality was wonderful and the gift of the 76 year old beer was very kind, I was part of the beginning of trying to get bloggers and writers onside in readiness for the launch of the brewery’s re-branded IPA.
It all backfired a bit when I reviewed the new beers honestly and appear to have been removed from Greene King’s Christmas card list.
In the summer I was invited over to Chester by The Chester Beer Appreciation Society (CBAS) who had organised a pub crawl and #Twissup.
It was the first time I’d really got to talk face to face with people who had taken CAMRGB to heart and who were serious about beer and as a result it was the beginning of a whole new learning curve.
A learning curve based around how to organise beer people and how CAMRGB could behave in the real world.
We helped organise a couple of Twitter events, one with Durham Brewery that was particularly successful and seemed to be another galvanising moment in the young life of our little organisation, with people all over the country coming together online to drink and talk and enjoy beer regardless of its production or dispense method.
Later in the year I visited Grain Brewery in Norfolk and was again treated to a day meeting nice people who believe deeply in what they do and who understand why CAMRGB has come into being.
I was filled with enthusiasm and every time I feel that all this is a waste of time, an organisational nightmare that gets in the way of family and the day job, I need only think about the guys at Grain to remind me what all this is about and why it has to continue.
There were one or two events organised without my input too, most notably the Ale To The King Edinburgh pub crawl that I wish I could have been a part of but just couldn’t get to.
It was more proof, should I have needed it, that The Campaign For Really Good Beer is all inclusive and will only grow exponentially over the next few years with the input and energy of others.
CAMRGB belongs to everyone who wants to be a part of it and will and should continue to do so.
But it was last Saturday in London that was the truly galvanising event of the year for CAMRGB.
I don’t think any of the people attending thought there’d be so many people attending.
I’d hoped for two dozen at the most but we had over thirty beer lovers all mingling without any embarrassment or shyness, we were all open and positive and it still makes me dizzy when I think back to any of the moments of that evening.
The overwhelming feeling from everyone I spoke to on Saturday night was that The Campaign For Really Good Beer has become a real and tangible organisation of likeminded people who agree with what are the basic tenets of the movement.
Everyone left the party on Saturday invigorated and enthusiastic and smiling hard (and yes, slightly the worse for wear), and looking forward to the next event.
And I’m sure that they’ll all now spread the word, tell people about what’s happening, about this thing we all own, this thing that celebrates and supports and encourages and promotes wonderful beer and beer makers, whoever and wherever they are and no matter how they make what they do so long as it’s good.
Personal beer highlights have been most anything by The Kernel, who continue to make breath-taking beer, Art Brew who seemed to burst out of nowhere and wow everyone in their path with both their wonderful beer and their lovely personality, Birificio Lambrate who’s beers are inventive and beautifully presented, Durham Brewery‘s beers that never ceased to excite, and Otley who have a knack of making beer that’s super cool as well as super tasty.
There were of course many others, including Revolutions, London Fields, Brouwerij De Molen, to name but three.
As of today (December 18th, 2012) The Campaign For Really Good Beer has 549 signed up members, which I think is an amazing number given that this is all spread by word of mouth.
There are currently just over 3,000 followers on Twitter and the website gets in excess of 6,000 hits a month.
We still have detractors and probably always will.
There are still people who argue that CAMRGB doesn’t have enough focus, and to them I’d say it’s a bit difficult to focus when you’re full of beer.
Especially when it’s Really Good.
But the people who get it really do get it, and they’re a growing band and they’re perfectly happy with what we all agree to stand for.
In closing I’d like to thank everyone who has had anything to do with CAMRGB over the last twelve months and who has either taken part in, or helped organise any of the events.
Special thanks go to Mark (@landells) for his unfaltering enthusiasm, Steve (@AleTalk) for his down to earth understanding of what we’re trying to achieve, Claire (@krider2010) for her unerring work for the cause, Andy (formerly @TheRealC_BAS) for being one of the coolest beer dudes around, James (@jamesbwxm) who just seems to get it, Paul (@paolofernley) for always being there, Matt (@TotalCurtis) for unbounded energy and good feeling, and of course all the breweries and shops around the UK and the world who know a good thing when they see it.
Here’s to another year of CAMRGB adventures.
Here’s to another year of Really Good Beer.
Happy Christmas to you all and to all of you CHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSS!