Camra was formed in the 1970s to fight back against “bland, processed, mass-produced beers” and the homogenisation of the category by big brewers.
But at a meeting of 1,200 members in Nottingham, they voted in support of an “inclusive approach to the beer industry”, affirming that Camra is about championing of real ale and providing a choice for drinkers, rather than outright opposition to other types of beer.
Chief executive Tim Page said: “It was clear from the debate in the hall that the majority of members think that criticising drinkers for not choosing real ale is counterproductive.
“Encouraging people to come back to beer from other drinks is the first important step, and once they've discovered the wide range of beers available our job is to educate and help them discover the delights of real ale, ciders and perries.
“This will reinforce the message that we're a campaign for, not a campaign against, and also remind people that when they denigrate those choosing to drink ‘non-real ales’, they are not speaking for Camra.”
He added: “This doesn't mean Camra has abandoned its fundamental aims and won't be actively campaigning for, or promoting non-real ales or ciders, but it’s demonstrative of our wider objective of helping to bring the beer industry back into growth and recognition of the benefits of promoting real ale within wider industry campaigns.”
On cider and perry, Camra members decided that the campaign needed to recognise changes in the cider market and the growth in popularity of “authentic flavoured” ciders and perries.
The Conference voted to adopt a motion changing Camra's definition of real cider and perry to remove the criteria that “no added flavourings to be used” and to allow “pure fruits, vegetables, honey, hops, herbs and spices, yet no concentrates, cordials or essences” to be added.
Page said: “Camra members have debated the real cider and perry definition for several years and this year evidence was presented which showed that the addition of whole fruits and spices to cider is part of the traditional production process.
“History aside, this decision will help our campaign become more relevant to many modern cider and perry drinkers who may not yet have discovered real cider and perry - which have always, and will continue to be, made with entirely natural, traditional ingredients.”