Ribble Valley snubbed in Good Beer Guide?

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I find it bitterly ironic and sourly condescending that the organisers of this year’s Clitheroe Beer Festival chose to send their patrons away with carrier bags displaying the slogan “Buy CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide”, when the 2014 edition of said book does not list a single pub in Clitheroe.

Our town has a variety of pubs, virtually all serving traditional hand-pulled cask ale, and as a collective we are faring better than most against the nationwide trend of pubs permanently closing. Why do CAMRA insist on snubbing Clitheroe in their “Good Beer Guide”?

What criteria is so specific that an entire town is deliberately ignored?

As someone who has worked in the pub trade for nearly 10 years, such an affront is a downright insult to the people who work their backsides off around the clock all year round to accommodate the public.

What CAMRA is doing by excluding Clitheroe from their book is not only refusing to acknowledge the efforts of the many people employed by the pub trade in this town, but diminishing the wider portrayal of Clitheroe in terms of tourism and travel.

Essentially, they are leading others to believe Clitheroe is not worth visiting!

Such an abuse of privilege was enough to convince me to boycott Clitheroe Beer Festival this year, as well as any other future CAMRA-organised functions, until CAMRA open their eyes and realise Clitheroe has plenty of good beer on its own doorstep.

Jason Menzies

Assistant Manager, New Inn, Clitheroe

Editor’s Note: The previous letter was sent to CAMRA and to us. Below is the reply from CAMRA.

Hi Jason, I am chairman of East Lancs CAMRA and can understand where you are coming from, but I am guessing you have not attended a branch meeting recently.

This East Lancs Branch includes six borough councils – Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Blackburn-with-Darwen and, of course, Ribble Valley (although only about half of the latter). As a branch covering this large area we have well over 300 real ale pubs (not to mention the many clubs selling real ale, such as the very good Conservative Club in Clithereoe) and, trust me, our members do their damndest to sup in all of them.

So, with a such a large area and with so many pubs and clubs, how many Good Beer Guide entries should we have? Well quite simply CAMRA HQ allows East Lancs 33 entries, so Rossendale area winge, Burnley area winge and yes, the Ribble Valley area winge as well (as do the other three).

We have in East Lancs a membership of well over 1,600 and there are some very passionate lads and lasses in the Ribble Valley who go out drinking in the area on a regular basis. There are many villages with really good pubs in the Ribble Valley and I do think quite a few would walk into most areas’ GBG allocation, but we just have the 33 and frankly there is not a lot we can do about it.

A few years ago we produced a free leaflet promoting real ale in Clitheroe and if you had attended the festival Jason, you would have recieved the programme, which included a crawl round Clitheroe town centre including, of course, the New Inn. But, more importantly, you could have picked up a booklet jointly produced by East Lancs CAMRA and the Forest of Bowland Area of Natural Beauty promoting the many superb pubs in Bowland (unfortunately, it does include some in Yorkshire).

As a branch we do our best to promote all the real ale pubs and clubs in our area stretching from the borders of Greater Manchester, Rochdale, North and West Yorkshire, maybe we don’t get it right all the time but we do honestly try our best.

In the last three years our Branch Pubs of The Year have reached the last 16 best pubs in Britain and as I’m sure you are aware, The Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton has just won the CAMRA National Pub Of The Year.

Our latest meeting was in The Brown Cow at Chatburn, but unfortunately I was in Derbyshire for that weekend so could not sample some of John and Michelle’s excellent ales; did you make it? If not, why not come along to one of our meetings, the next one being at The Griffin Inn, Haslingden, on Tuesday June 3rd at 7-45 pm.

I have copied one or two of our Ribble Valley members in on this reply so they are aware of your concerns.

John Webster,

Chairman East Lancs CAMRA