Home Truths

Many readers will know of the Castle Rock brewery in Nottingham, which now includes the Tynemill pub chain set up by former CAMRA national chairman Chris Holmes. Recently the company took issue with an item on BBC East Midlands Today and they shared their response on Facebook. They said, ‘we’d like to share with you an open letter to the BBC and really, the wider media and press’ and I thought that London Drinker readers would like to read it as well.

“Dear BBC East Midlands,

On yesterday’s ‘East Midlands Today’ programme, you ran a brief story exploring the rising costs associated with alcohol abuse and then juxtaposed shots of unconscious people laid out on the street being treated by paramedics with a shot of Harvest Pale being poured, which was on the bar alongside Totally Brewed and Burton Bridge Brewery (https://www.bbc.co.uk/…/east-midlands-today-evening-news-06…)

Like many others in Nottingham, our pubs and bars are controlled drinking environments with responsible policies. As we are continually proving, they’re also vitally important spaces. They are places of discovery and exploration, but also of familiarity. They are places for solace, for kindling and maintaining friendships and relationships, for waxing lyrical, taking part in quizzes, checking out live music and awesome events, eating good food and supporting charity and community alike.

This ill-considered choice of library shot is just one example of many used in the media. It represents a small part of a big problem in which pubs, bars and ‘beer’ (usually cask beer) are all tarred with the same brush and demonised via association with binge drinking.

If this issue is going to be explored, we suggest that it’s explored thoroughly and fairly, and if the media is only prepared to discuss the ‘consequences’ of a problem (i.e. alcohol abuse) then we can think of more suitable places to look than well run pubs and bars and hardworking breweries, starting with ultra cheap supermarket booze.”

They finished with the following message, ‘To our customers, friends and followers, and to our fellow pubs and brewers in Nottingham, Nottingham CAMRA, CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale, the consumer’s champion, The Morning Advertiser, Society of Independent Brewers – SIBA… Let’s share far and wide the positive impact that pubs, bars and breweries have had on our little ol’ lives! We’ll get you started with a reminder of some of our customers’ comments during our #MyLocals campaign.

The message has the full support of CAMRA. National chairman Nik Antona said, “It is completely right for Castle Rock brewery to call on the BBC and other media outlets to stop misrepresenting cask ale and traditional pubs by tarring them with the brush of irresponsible drinking. Traditional pubs are the home of responsible drinking, providing a safe, supervised and social environment to enjoy a drink. Cask ale itself has a lower ABV than wine or spirits, and represents a moderate drink of choice. The media should be more mindful of the unconscious bias they are creating in their stories and should consider giving more focus on the more prevalent causes of binge drinking – such as the availability of cheap supermarket booze that is predominantly consumed at home.”

Yes, indeed.
Tony Hedger