The end of the world is nigh, and it's all the off-trade's fault
Camra says green-minded beer drinkers must swap armchairs for bar stools
The off-trade, already blamed for fuelling social disorder and under-age drinking, faced an unexpected new charge this week: destroying the planet.
The Campaign for Real Ale blasted retailers for creating a mountain of empty cans and bottles and for sending beer on long journeys to get to its point of sale. "We're all becoming more environmentally conscious," said Camra chief executive Mike Benner, "and drinking a local real ale in a pub is one way of making a small but significant contribution to save the world.
"Draught ale means no wasted beer cans or bottles and if you choose a locally brewed beer, you'll help reduce unnecessary beer miles."
Camra urged beer drinkers to "swap their armchairs for the bar stool".
The message has created bemusement in the off-trade. David Daykin - himself a Camra member - who owns Archer Road Beer Stop in Sheffield, said: "It's a very strange statement from Camra. I'm surprised that they would say something so extraordinary.
"Perhaps they want to address their bottled beer club that sends out these containers and increases their carbon footprint no end. I can see why they say this kind of thing at a time when pubs are threatened, but I don't think we should be the villain of the piece."
He added that although some shops sold cask beer using containers that were "recyclable and very green", this remained "a niche market".
Gareth Jones, owner of Beer Essentials, Horsham, said that "anything that's spreading the real ale gospel is good news". But he added: "What Camra is saying is true, but it's maybe stretching it a bit to say it's saving the planet.
"I sell local beer, but then I sell beer from all over the place. You can't worry about beer miles because you wouldn't be able to get the variety that people want."
Tesco beer buyer Andrew Carpenter added: "The choice people make over whether to drink at home or in pubs, clubs or restaurants is all about individual occasions and preferences.
"We're increasing the number of local ales available for customers in their local stores - more than 60 new local beers in the last year alone. We recognise the quality and relevance local breweries have for customers and are talking to many more all the time. Customers across the UK are more and more able to enjoy their local beer at home.
"The brewers themselves - both the international brands and the local, regional British breweries - are all aware of the environmental debate and looking into ways to reduce packaging and thereby waste created by home consumption. All suppliers and brewers are making great progress on this issue."