Beer history

The CAMRA beard stereotype

A good question from Barm on Twitter yesterday:

1974: a report on beer strength in The Guardian from 2 April makes pointed reference to Michael Hardman as ‘the bearded 27-year-old journalist who founded CAMRA’.

1979: famous beard-wearer David Bellamy opens the Great British Beer Festival and The Guardian coverage makes much of the number of beards in attendance, with a CAMRA spokesman clarifying that, contrary to appearances, the clean-shaven are welcome. The Daily Mirror report from Alexandra Palace says ‘the connoisseurs imbibed through their beards — there was enough facial hair to stuff a thousand tap-room stools’. (The stereotype is developing, but there are actual people with actual beards being referred to here.)

1982: The Guardian’s coverage of the launch of The Good Beer Guide mentions ‘people with belly laughs and bushy beards’. (The stereotype now in the abstract, fully developed, and sounds rather like a mythical, Falstaffian Lord of the Beers.)

Based on what we’ve found so far, we reckon GBBF 1979 is to blame. More alternate history: perhaps if Johnny Morris had opened it instead of Bellamy, the stereotype would be that all CAMRA members wear zoo-keeper’s hats?

5 replies on “The CAMRA beard stereotype”

In the 1970s beards were much more common, of course, especially amongst what might be called the typical CAMRA demographic, and so would not have stood out quite so much.

I seem to remember beards being common in the late 1970s amongst lefties as well as if they were involved in a sort of X-Factor Karl Marx lookalike contest — some of the climbers I knew had beards as well.

Not the only 70s stereotype with a beard of course. There’s the bearded, guitar-strumming trendy vicar. And the bearded, guitar-strumming trendy teacher. And the chap from The Joy of Sex.

Talking of Johnny Morris a mate of mine who was a producer at TV-AM recalls the day Johnny arrived at the Camden Lock studios for a live interview at 7am.

He was carrying a bag with four cans of Special Brew inside and cracked one open before he went on air.

Hardcore legend.

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