Beer history Brew Britannia

The Story of the Ring

Back in 2012, when we were researching Brew Britannia, we gathered quite a list of proto-CAMRA beer appreciation societies, including The Ring.

Details on The Ring proved elusive, though, even when we emailed an address we were given for Sue Hart, who we were told was a core member of the group. She didn’t reply and we didn’t pursue the story any further.

Then, earlier this week, she emailed out of the blue with kind words about our two books and a wonderful summary of the story of The Ring which (edited slightly, with her permission) we’re delighted to present here so that nobody with access to Google need be as puzzled as we were five years back.

Beer history

Tooled Up Froth Blowers, RALF and the Ring

Not the real RALF logo.
Not the real RALF logo…

When we wrote about the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers, we knew they were relatively well known, but didn’t know they’d been immortalised in animation. Our favourite discovery, however, has been that the AOFB was used as a cover by ‘Wild Geese’ mercenaries who turned up to support a 1981 coup in the Seychelles wearing blazers embroidered with the Order’s logo, and with their bags stuffed with guns.

That Froth Blowers post also led a chap called Bert to tip us off to the existence of the militant Real Ale Liberation Front (RALF), founded by pub landlord and CAMRA member Nick Winnington in Weymouth in c.1977, with the aim of carrying out small acts of sabotage against keg beer and the big brewers. There was more than one member, and there were some stickers, but that’s all we know. We’ve emailed Nick (with Bob Arnott’s help) and await more information.

Finally, our new favourite book(s), Green and White’s Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs (1973), gives us this:

Another organization concerned with pubs and beer is ‘the Ring.’ This is a loosely knit group of mature students of the pub scene. They meet once a month for a determined pub crawl, obliged to visit ten or eleven pre-selected pubs. Masonic rituals prevail; you buy drinks in groups of three or four in strict rotation; and when the leader has finished his half pint, he shouts ‘Ring out!’, at which you must drain your glass and leave the pub… Men are known collectively as Hector, and ladies — though not normally accepted — as Morag.

Can anyone confirm the existence of the Ring? Or is this just it’s-a-mad-world journalistic bullshit?