‘Are there still any widely sought-after beers among traditional Real Ale afficionados? It’s pretty easy to spot what’s hot with craft beer geeks, but less so with traddies, probably because they aren’t all on Twitter. Are there still beers that would clear the floor at a CAMRA AGM if the rumour went around that a cask had just gone on at a nearby pub?’ — Dave S, Cambridge
This isn’t a question with a right-wrong answer — it’s an invitation to a thought experiment, which is fine by us. But we did begin by asking a few people we thought might have some insight into the tastes and desires of ‘traddies’ (a new word inspired, we assume, by the similar, faintly sneering ‘crafties’).
First, Tom Stainer, head of communications at the Campaign for Real Ale (disclosure: we’re sometimes paid to write for CAMRA) took issue with the question:
I’ll gently accuse you of stereotyping. I’m not sure there is a broad, identifiable group of ‘traddies’ who all respond in the same way. I’d also suspect that… a fair number of AGM attendees would be as likely to sprint for the bar whether you announced a rare cask of Greene King 5X was being tapped, or a Camden collaborative keg.
That’s something to start with, though. Greene King 5X, the strong wood-aged beer that GK use for blending but otherwise don’t sell to the public, was a sensation at the last Great British Beer Festival we attended in 2012, strictly rationed and triggering the kind of agitated, faintly panicky queuing behaviour at which we Brits excel.
Tom also suggested that at the GBBF whatever is named Champion Beer of Britain ‘disappears pretty quickly’, and that anything in an unusual style is also popular, e.g. chilli porter. He asked around and got no other suggestions.
Tandleman couldn’t think of anything that quite fit the bill either, although he agreed with our suggestion that the humble Batham’s Bitter might get people a bit excited.