Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Queen Honours Real Ale
Michael Hardman, who has been made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours, popularised the term real ale and has been at the forefront of a long and successful campaign to save traditional British beer and to promote the breweries that produce it.
He was one of the four founders of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, at a time in the early 1970s when the big brewers were pushing traditional beer to the edge of extinction by concentrating on marketing bland, processed keg products.
As CAMRA’s first national chairman, he developed the phrase real ale — now in everyday usage and recognised by dictionaries — to describe Britain’s unique, living beers. He created both the Good Beer Guide, an annual bestseller, and the national monthly newspaper What’s Brewing.
CAMRA was once described by Lord Young of Dartington, chairman of the National Consumer Council, as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe.
After leaving CAMRA, Hardman combined his work as a national newspaper and radio journalist with public relations in the brewing industry.
He worked with Young’s Brewery in London and its charismatic chairman, John Young, for 27 years, handling royal visits by the Queen, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Diana Princess of Wales, Princess Anne and Prince Edward.
They once famously stage-managed an event at a pub in the East End of London when the Queen Mother pulled a pint of bitter and drank it enthusiastically. The moment was captured by press photographers, whose pictures were printed in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Hardman trained as a journalist with local papers. He later moved to Fleet Street and also worked for BBC radio, mainly in Parliament.
He helped to found the British Guild of Beer Writers, has been Britain’s Beer Writer of the Year for his work with the Daily Mirror, is a judge at national and regional beer competitions, and is the author of the book Beer Naturally. He is the current holder of the John Young Award, presented by the London branches of CAMRA for services to real ale.
Hardman, whose MBE is for services to the Campaign for Real Ale and the brewing industry, runs a communications and publications consultancy in Reigate, Surrey.