Hands up those of you who thought that campaigning for CAMRA involved nothing
more than handing out leaflets, standing in the street brandishing placards adorned
with dubiously-rhymed epithets such as "Real Ale is the Holy Grail" and basically
protesting very loudly whenever a local pub and centre of the community is
threatened with closure by a multi regional money machine called a national brewery
or pub chain?
Well actually you'd be wrong. Whilst it has to be said that these are all aspects of
campaigning which CAMRA is very good at we also have other equally important
and very enjoyable goals, viz: to spread the word about how good real ale is and to
ensure that pubs we recommend to others serve real ale to a very high standard.
Achieving these goals is very simple. We go to selected pubs, chat with landlords and
customers about our favourite subject (beers) and very importantly, taste the products
on offer. (In some cases more than once it has to be said.)
With this in mind Cambridge Branch recently met up with colleagues from the Ely and
Hunts. Branches in order to conduct a trail of local pubs. Choosing pubs featured in
the CAMRA Good Beer Guide
and using taxis supplied by Cambridge Branch, we
tested ale from four pubs situated on the northern fringe of the City.
I'm happy to report that the hospitality and quality of ale was excellent in every one
of them, as the following notes made by Mark Watch of Cambridge Moonshine
Brewery will attest.
CASTLE, Castle Hill
- Bitter 3.7%
- Explorer 4.3%
- Oyster Stout 4.3%
- Broadside 4.7%
- Guest ales:
- Davenports - Original Bitter 4.0%
- Jennings - Golden Host 4.3%
- Fullers - London Pride 4.3%
- Charles Wells - Bombardier 4.1%
- Black Sheep - Bitter 4.4%.
All beers where in top condition.
Landlord John Halsey (aka
was very welcoming and keen to spend time
talking about the beers on sale at the pub.
RED LION, Histon
- Black Dog Mild 3.6%
- Tiger 4.2%
- Nice Session 3.5%
- Bishops Farewell 4.6% (we all agreed that
this was the top beer in the Red Lion - flowery nose, full of hop flavour but light and
Mark Donachy the landlord took time out to speak to us. The pub has a fine
collection of antiques and also lots of pictures of Histon from years gone by. A good
mixture of local people were using the pub. Two beer festivals are held here each
year, the next one being from 4-8 September. Money raised at the festival is donated
to the Histon Feast Committee which in turn supports local organisations. Well done
for putting something back into the local community.
WAGGON & HORSES, Milton
- Black Dog Mild 3.6%
- Golden Newt 4.7%
- Two guest ales from York Brewery
- Terrier 4.3%
- Bronze Bitter 4%
(this beer won a bronze medal at the 2000 Great British Beer Festival.)
The Landlord Nick Winnington is no stranger to CAMRA having been the orderer of
beers for the Cambridge Winter Ale Festival for the past 10 years.
Cassels Cider was also available.
CARLTON ARMS, Carlton Way, Cambridge
- Two regular beers here
- Deuchars IPA 3.8%
- Tim Taylor's Landlord 4.3%
- + 7 guest ales.
- Dark Mild 3.4%
- Spirit Of The Sea 4.4%
- White Horse
- Dragon Hill 4.2%
- Fine Fettle 4.8%
- Monks Habit 4.2%
- Burton Bridge
- Damson Porter 4.5%
- and the wonderful Cambridge Moonshine
- Black Hole Stout 5.0%
The Carlton is a welcoming and friendly community pub. Comfortable seating
makes you feel you are in your own living room. All beers tasted were in excellent