Aside from having an acronym unnervingly close to JK Rowling's "Society for Protection of Elvish Welfare" (SPEW), the Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) had not really created a blip on my radar. That is until I picked up a membership leaflet in Belfast Bridge House (Wetherspoon pub) yesterday.
Apparently this venerable beer organisation is 50 this year, with almost 10 years on the better known Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). I perused at leisure whilst watching TV last night. At first I thought it might be quite fun to join (£4 for quaterly newsletters and a new social group), they are (self-admittedly) a lot like CAMRA. However when I got to the societies aims I stopped dead in my tracks. Point 3 states:
"To denigrate the manufacture and sale of keg beers and to discourage the use of extraneous carbon-dioxide in the serving of beer. "
Aside from severely limiting the number of pubs they can drink at* (even those pubs which specialise in cask invariably provide one or two keg products) they are giving the rest of us cask campaigners a bad name. Boak & Bailey seem not to have mentioned this in their analysis of UK beer groups (or maybe i missed it?) Could this be where the unjustified opinion that CAMRA are keg bashers stems from? Notice the wording, not just discourage, but denigrate that is "to belittle or disparage the character of".
A group with this as an aim isn't doing good beer any favours at all and just perpetuates the myth that keg=automatically bad beer and prolongs the bickering amongst different factions of the beer community. I don't need to point out the sea-change in beer available in keg since both organisations began.
So perhaps CAMRA members who want to talk of the "evil"s of kegs should leave and join SPBW instead to let the rest of us point out the positives of cask conditioning and let the beer do the talking in letting people make up their own minds.
*How The Northern Irish SPBW get around this I'm not sure, there are no cask-only outlets here!