Real ale drinkers in bid to save pubs
Beer drinkers are uniting in a campaign to save Rutland's pubs and boost the profile of real ale.
A new sub branch of the Campaign to Protect Real Ale has been launched in the county and membership is growing with every meeting it hosts.
Self-confessed beer lover Graham Proud has taken the reins and hopes to stop other Rutland pubs from suffering the same fate as his local in Preston.
He said: "We have some cracking pubs in Rutland and they are struggling because of supermarket prices and the tax on pints of beer. These pubs need to be preserved because there is nothing like them in the world."
Graham's love of a good pint led him to join CAMRA six years ago and has taken him to 18 beer festivals in Peterborough over the years. It also sealed the deal with his partner, Lisa James, when he first saw her in a bar in Peterborough.
He added: "I saw a pretty face across the bar and then she bought a pint of real ale."
The couple are both members of Rutland's CAMRA committee - Graham as chairman and Lisa as treasurer.
Together with secretary Alan Pickersgill, landlord of The Crown in Uppingham, and press officer Jon Whowell, they aim to keep the spirit of the great British pub alive and well in Rutland.
Graham said: "When CAMRA started it was about getting real ale into pubs, but now as most of them serve it the focus is more on saving the pubs. More and more of them will end up closing because they are being priced out of the market."
The couple have seen their own local, The Kingfisher, close along with The Cuckoo in Wing and The Three Crowns in Somerby and don't want to see the same happen in other villages.
Graham said: "Once a pub has closed, it is usually closed forever which is why we need to support them before that happens."
Alan Pickersgill shares these views.
He said: "The pub trade is under threat, especially in rural areas, and the promotion of real ale is absolutely paramount to their success because it is one of the main growth areas in the market.
"There is lots of enthusiasm around the county to support our pubs. I would like to achieve the position where we can really represent pubs in the county to stop their decline."
Rutland has around 70 pubs and only about 20 of them are in the towns.
Graham's favourite is the Fox and Hounds at North Luffenham because of its community spirit - and of course the real ales.
As landlord of The Crown, Alan obviously favours his own business and is determined to do his bit for promoting real ale. Next month he will be hosting his Oktoberfest beer festival in the town.
Alan said: "I'm really passionate about real ale and proud for The Crown to be the only pub in Uppingham and one of only six in Rutland to be entered into the Good Beer Guide 2009.
There are 689 CAMRA members in Rutland and the sub branch hosted its third meeting last week at The Plough in Greetham.
A new social secretary has been appointed who is busy planning pub crawls in Cambridge and Sheffield and the committee members are busy touring the county to spread their real ale campaign.
Meetings will restart on the second Thursday of the month on November 13 at the Falcon Hotel in Uppingham at 8 pm after Alan's Oktoberfest. The final meeting of 2008 will be at The Blue Bell in Belmesthorpe on December 11 at 8pm. All CAMRA members are welcome to attend.
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