ALE August-September 2006 No. 324 : Next section

[Campaign for Real Ale logo © CAMRA]

On the Campaign Trail

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

Beers tested:
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 Barry Wom) was very welcoming and keen to spend time talking about the beers on sale at the pub.

RED LION, Histon

Beers tested:
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 refreshing).
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.


Beers tested:
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

Beers tested:
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 Brewery
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 condition.

Join us on the campaign trail

Cambridge CAMRA will once again be taking to the campaign trail on Saturday 23rd September. This time we will be visiting pubs in the southern part of our region on a tour we are calling the Cambridge Southern Cross. The tour is open to all members of Cambridge Branch and will be starting from the Flying Pig, Hills Road at 1.00pm. Transport will be provided free but numbers are limited so you must book your place in advance.

If you are serious about your beer; would like to learn about how your local branch works, or if you just want to be taken to some of the best pubs in our area, book your place by contacting Paul Ainsworth at or phone 01954 203230

Will Smith