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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Can real ale ever be sexy?
A poster campaign has been launched to attract new drinkers to real ale.

The posters of a nearly naked man and woman are promoting the new slogan of "100% Naturale" for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

"We have used these very attractive pictures of models to emphasise the natural qualities of ale to young drinkers", a Camra spokesperson said.

Camra hopes the posters will bury the image of bitter drinkers as bearded middle-aged men drinking in smoky public houses.

Will the new adverts change your view of Real Ale? Can bitter ever be sexy?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I wish someone would brew some proper ale here. You boys back home should think yourselves lucky. I've found one pub in Auckland that brews real ale. It's not good enough. Kiwi beers are terrible!
James, New Zealand (Ex Yorkshire)

Real ale is just too vile for human consumption. It was only ever invented because the English couldn't re-create European monastic lagers and beers, due to a lack of soft water. Real ale is another sign of Little England - well suited to the "Keep the Pound" brigade.
A. Mac, UK

It's Catch 22 - Real Ale will only work if it becomes more widely available but if it does it will take away the fun of it.
Stephen Luke, Wales

Real ale will never become sexy as long as it is warm, flat, has bits floating in it

Darren, UK
Sorry, but real ale will never become sexy as long as it is warm, flat, has bits floating in it and goes by names like 'Old mans underpants'. Give me a cold, clear lager any day, just like in the film, Ice Cold in Alex.
Darren, UK

The comments made here about bitter versus lager completely miss the point. They are in competition with each other only in the minds of the brewers. Here in Belgium, we have some of the finest beers in the world, lagers and dark beers, but no one thinks you have to prefer one type exclusively to the other. My preference is for the darker beers on cold winter days and the lagers all year round. Incidentally, I noticed recently that English bitter is now sold chilled in London pubs. What does CAMRA think of this trend?
John, UK, writing from Belgium

In my experience, people who drink real ale are generally more sociable and level headed, even after a drink. The alcohol from lager, smooth bitters and other keg beers is absorbed into the blood stream more effectively because of the high nitrogen content and general gassiness of these drinks. The result is a sharp peak in levels of drunkenness and the high incidence of violence. I have never even seen an argument at a CAMRA beer festival, let alone a fight, and the majority of drinkers at these events are well under 40. I would not expect the "lager boy" type of person to want to drink real ale, their only aim is to get drunk, not to ENJOY the drink itself.
Keith Farnish, UK

My dad drinks ale and I don't want to look like him

Greig, UK

I for one would not be swayed by any advertising campaign. Pure and simply ale tastes really bad and lager tastes really good, oh and my dad drinks ale and I don't want to look like him!
Greig, UK

The point of Camra's promotion was not to make Real Ale "sexy" but to raise awareness of beer served fresh from a cask, rather than canned, pasteurised lagers and "creamyflows" (I mean, since when has beer supposed to be creamy? Since the marketing people got involved). Many people will only ever buy a national brand, so smaller local brewers miss out. If they can establish a "Cask" Brand, and the smaller brewers use it they can increase their sales. Good for them, and good for us who are bored of the choice we have now.
Rob, UK

As an ex-barman, I can say that keeping real ale is an expensive and time-consuming exercise, and pulling a pint properly is no mean skill. The other main issue is shelf-life. A barrel of real ale is only good for a window of a week or so, whereas a keg of fizzy lager will keep for weeks. There are many operational overheads to stocking ale compared to keg beer, and most landlords would opt for the more profitable option.
Chris, UK

Actually, I believe lager and bitter can co-exist quite happily. I think most important issue is quality. A good real ale is perfect at Sunday lunchtime, and lager can be a good "session" drink.

When we talk about real ale, we are not just talking about "bitter". Also, not all real ales are necessarily "good". I have tried some real ales that are much too rich. On the other hand, lagers in Britain are definitely inferior to their continental counterparts, and American beer (apart from the microbrews) is just mass-media-marketed-mediocrity. Try a German Wheat bear (Weiss Bier) for a refreshing summer drink, and the Czech Pilsners are superb. At least in Europe the beers don't contain caramel and "E" numbers for colouring etc. just natural ingredients.
Rob Holman, England

If men want women to look as beautiful as the one above they shouldn't be encouraging them to drink beer unless large bellies hanging over trousers is attractive. (I won't mention the man as men like that do not exist in the real world).
Carli, UK

Considering the steady rise in alcohol related violence in this country I am surprised the advertising standards commission continues to advertise and exploit alcohol directing it towards younger drinkers without any health warnings. If cigarettes come with health hazard warnings so should alcohol. Three hundred thousand deaths a year are a direct result of alcohol and 75% of casualty incidents from Friday to Sunday are alcohol related. Giving it a sexier image is irresponsible. Showing a nurse that has been glassed by a drunken patient or a child run down by a drunken driver would be more accurate. Advertising alcohol in this way is dangerous and only encourages people to drink more and hence add to the problems already existing.
Sharon B, UK

I'm middle-aged, bearded and I have "taste". I've been drinking real ale for years. I hope real ale doesn't become "trendy". And although I'm all for promoting it, if it becomes "trendy", the price will rocket and the quality may suffer. It won't happen anyway, because today's "yoof" have not taste, and drink "alco-pops" which are a complete rip off!
Rob S, England

If the beer tastes good enough being sexy is merely a distraction. It's a slur to say that Americans just drink bad American beer. We also drink bad Canadian beer, bad Mexican beer, bad Dutch beer and Bad German beer. Bad English beer has never caught our fancy. However, I'll agree with the fellow from Boston. The beer in Boston is as good as anywhere in the world.
Edward Margerum, Salem, Massachusetts

Lager is more popular because it is trendier and has less calories than bitter. Clever advertising could help make bitter trendy but if women and young people are going to drink it there should be some low calorie bitters brewed. I prefer it simply because it tastes better and is cheaper. If the public knew this I'm sure more people would drink it. Another way it could be made popular is to name it Britain's national drink as well as the Welsh and English national drink. Once this is done it would, like Guinness, be drunk on patron saints days (St George & St David).

The government could help by taxing bitter less than lager and by giving our small independent breweries special tax breaks. Free houses should be given tax concessions too as they are facing a tough struggle against the pub chains and large breweries who only want their beers sold, which limits choice and further threatens the small real ale breweries. If this isn't done many of our famous real ale breweries will go out of business.
James Wild, UK

The fizzy, light nature of lager and continental beer is far more conducive to an energetic night socialising

BS McIntosh, Sweden (ex-UK)
Part of the popularity of lager and continental beers over ales and other 'heavy' beers is down to advertising but part is, I think, quite simply down to how they make you feel. The fizzy, light nature of lager and continental beer is far more conducive to an energetic night socialising than a pint of flat, heavy liquid, particularly if it isn't chilled. Real ale, whilst perhaps tasty for a quiet drink, has an almost impossible battle to win when trying to convince your 'up for it' weekend socialisers. It's simply not right for the job.
BS McIntosh, Sweden (ex-UK)


I've been drinking real ale for years, got the gut
I play in a folk group
I've got a beard
I'm in my mid forties
I'm a member of CAMRA
Help, I'm a stereotype!

(Don't wear chunky sweaters or sandals though).

I'll be at Olympia doing my best to increase the sales of wonderful beer and keeping people employed in one of the few remaining traditional industries we have left.
Mike Johnson, UK, London

Why the attempt to re-brand ale? As long as I can remember ale was associated with warm, smoke-filled pubs, darts, rugby clubs etc. Personally a pint of real ale from the cask, providing it has been properly looked after, is sheer bliss to drink. In my opinion lager is an overpriced, coloured, over-chilled and tasteless liquid.
Jim Drummond, Cairo, Egypt

After the Great Britain Beer Festival, in London, all the brewery presidents decided to go out for a beer. The guy from Corona sits down and says, 'Hey Senor, I would like the world's best beer, a Corona'. The bartender dusts off a bottle from the shelf and gives it to him. The guy from Budweiser says, 'I'd like the best beer in the world, give me 'The King Of Beers', a Budweiser'. The bartender gives him one. The guy from Coors says, 'I'd like the only beer made with Rocky Mountain spring water, give me a Coors'. He gets it. The guy from John Smiths sits down and says, 'Give me a Coke'. The bartender is a little taken aback, but gives him what he ordered. The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask, 'Why aren't you drinking a John Smiths?' The John Smiths president replies, 'Well, I figured if you guys aren't drinking beer, neither would I'.
Stewart Evans, Yorkshire and Texas

Newcastle Brown is - and always will be - the champion of brown ales!
Hannah, Leedex, UK

Speaking as a veteran barman, I can state categorically that real ale cannot EVER be 'made sexy'. The reason being that while bitter drinkers tend to be old and/or ugly, real ale drinkers tend to be inconceivably ugly, smelly, officious and boring to boot.
Graham Hughes, Liverpool, UK

Tastes have changed so much during the past ten years

Matt, Boston, USA
I must disagree with the comment against American beer. It is true that my country has shamelessly flooded the world with McBeer lager during the past 40 years. However, at least in my area, there are now half a dozen locally brewed types of ale that are, in my opinion, better than any European ale that I have ever drunk. And they are very popular. Indeed, round here tastes have changed so much during the past ten years that it is now hard to find Budweiser on tap. We are catching up.
Matt, Boston, USA

Real ale has always appealed to me as a tasty, nutritious, thirst quenching beverage. I am a coffee taster and can distinguish subtle tastes in most food and drink. It is a pity that recently many pubs are over-chilling real ales. I have never thought of real ale as sexy though!
Surendra Kotecha, Kenya/ England

I am young and sexy, and I choose to drink real ale. Let's hope this campaign can boost the excellent UK real ale industry.
Neil Rapley, England

This advert proves how hypocritical Camra is. It forced the It's A Scream pub chain to ban all posters containing any form of nudity. These posters would be advertising LAGER not real ale. So it's fine for Camra to do it but not for anyone who doesn't sell real ale.
D. Thornton, UK

As a bearded middle-aged man, I'll thank Camra to keep its hands off my image

Simon Williams, UK
As a bearded middle-aged man, I'll thank Camra to keep its hands off my image. However, I'm all for as many people as possible being introduced to the variety and quality of British ales of all kinds. If that involves near-naked models on posters, I guess we'll just have to live with them.
Simon Williams, UK

The best real ales are from smaller breweries which lack the financial clout to advertise nationally. To today's younger drinkers that means that it's not 'designer' and therefore they're not interested in even trying it. Until people look at actual quality rather than a perceived one then real ale is doomed to remain a fringe drink
DJK, England

My wife is bitter, but sometimes sexy!
Ropbo, UK

If people really believe drinking one drink instead of another makes them more attractive to the opposite sex then the marketeers really have won the day.
Gerry, Scotland

Of course it's sexy. After six or seven pints even the missus starts to look like that.
Withheld to save life, UK

If it makes me sexy, all the better

Bob Jones, USA
As a Brit living in the US, I disdain the drink they call beer here. It reminds me of the old Harp lagers that were only sold to women in UK. I visit UK every year, basically to get a refresher course in the English language but mainly to quaff some proper ale. Nectar of the Gods. Nothing will ever stop me from drinking best bitter. If it makes me sexy, all the better.
Bob Jones, USA

The woman is overdressed.
Colin, Russia

Does this then mean that bearded middle aged men are to be discouraged from drinking bitter? Speaking as one of that fraternity, I intend to continue drinking real ale, and don't particularly want my local invaded by the younger generation
Stu, UK

A warm pint of smelly brown bitter can never compete with the crisp clean refreshing taste of an ice-cold continental lager. No amount of advertising will persuade people without beards otherwise.
Tom, England

Yes, beer can be sexy! There's a lot of snobbery about alcohol, people think it's sophisticated to drink wine but in fact, wine gets into your blood stream quicker and gives you more of a hangover. Beer is a much nicer, refreshing drink. I always have it in restaurants now and I think we should reclaim it. I love the ad too.
Nicky, England

All we need now is for a few more pubs to sell real ale, rather than the nasty 'electric' bitter that they all seem to sell. And then get the landlords to keep it properly so that it doesn't taste like yesterdays bath water..... I LOVE real ale, I am female, and so far, I do not have a beard!

Sex and beer. What an original thought

Mark H, England
Sex and beer. What an original thought.
I hope the attempted change in image will not overflow to messing about with the traditional pubs.
Mark H, England

Surely drinking more bitter can't be sexy. Unless I'm mistaken the stereotypical view of a beer belly is quite the opposite. I do have to admit that bitter tastes much better than lager though. And being a student I don't think I fit into the bearded middle age man category.
Adam Skelton, England

Real ale is one of the things that Britain does as well or better than most of the rest of the world. What CAMRA needs to do is to convince the "trendy" bars/clubs it is worth the hassle to stock and serve it - the problem with real ale is getting hold of it outside of a pub.
Nick, UK

The sexy ad campaign worked for Murphy's, Boddingtons and John Smiths, so I see no reason why it shouldn't work for real ale.
Jay, Wales

Keep up the good work, Camra!

James Ogley, UK
Ale is the most entertaining drink we have. Where would we be without such brews as Nether Willsthorpe Festival Ale?! Keep up the good work, Camra!
James Ogley, UK

Today the majority of real ale drinkers are young attractive people. Why shouldn't the advertising reflect the reality, I'm all for it.
Adrian, Belgium

How long will that bloke's stomach stay flat when he starts drinking ale, then?
Guy Chapman, UK

Currently I am stuck in Switzerland working abroad... Right now given the choice of a nice pint of bitter at home in a local or a sexy woman ruffling my collar, I'd take the pint every time...
Daryl Barnes, Switzerland (English)

Pictures of naked chicks are great, so is beer..... this works for me. But lose the picture of the guy, or at least give him a beard!
Stuart, UK

To quote Homer Simpson, "Hmm, Beer...."

Paul Blewett, UK
Real Ale becoming popular could be a double-edged sword for CAMRA - they may very well get the wider selection of beers they crave, but will this selection be any good?
To quote Homer Simpson, "Hmm, Beer...."
Paul Blewett, UK

Sex is sex and beer is beer and any links between the two overriding subjects in many a man's mind should not be overstated. Sex isn't everything although I'm told it sells things. I drink beer every day. As for sex...
Martin Brandon, UK

In the 1980's Guinness had the image of being drunk almost exclusively by students with Dr Who scarves and Irish yokels. Millions of pounds of advertising (and no change to the product). It is now sexy and fashionable with fake Oirish pubs scarring the land. As Graeme says, quality and taste are irrelevant for the British public - its only the image that counts.
Adrian, England

Unfortunately, the typical real ale drinker still fits the bearded pipe smoker image. The issue is not particularly with the acceptance of the drink as 'sexy', but more that the awareness of real ale's quality is consistently low. There's just not the marketing muscle available to compete with the majors.
Rob McMeekin, UK

I am fed up with the rise of trendy semi-wine bars selling only bottled lagers at trendy prices. I wish the campaign luck.
Andrew Belben, England

The finest lagers come from Australia

Hamish, London/ Australia
The finest lagers come from Australia, and prove more popular than American brands through superior taste and effective advertising. The same approach should be taken by delicious British ale and bitter producers to stave off the tastless American lagers (except maybe Michelob).
Hamish, London/ Australia

In my opinion real ale will never be sexy while the public can still see the "real ale buffs". These people, ironically, through their rantings and desperate efforts to have a cause have actually furthered the demise of its popularity. We have all seen them ranting and raving at beer festivals, and what normal person wants to be associated with that?
Jonathan King, Switzerland (Brit)

If people want to drink ale, then they will. Why does it matter if you've got 36-24-36 measurements?
Lorna, UK

Harsh comments indeed from Graeme, England about the British public having no taste etc. The reason for the campaign is that real ale is generally perceived as the drink for MG driving beardies. How are the youth of today going to drink anything other than rank lager, tinned draught-flow full of chemicals and alcopops unless the "proper" drinks try to improve the image they present?
Richard, UK

Real ale will never be seen as a sexy drink

Kenny, UK
Real ale will never be seen as a sexy drink given the chunky sweater wearing drinker image it has been given in the past. Take a look at the new issue of Viz for an accurate portrayal of the real ale drinker!
Kenny, UK

Well it certainly can't do any harm. Looking at how well the advertising campaign went for Boddingtons I think this will be a breath of fresh air for the Camra.....mine's a pint
Danny, England

As a 23 year old who has always drunk bitter, I can confirm that I do not have a beard or a gut the size of the Bournemouth. Stereotypes will always persist though, however unjust. Ultimately, I don't think that this advert will send people running to the pumps. Slick marketing campaigns, such as the John Smiths and Boddingtons promotions, that build a specific brand around a set of brand values, will give real ale its best chance of increasing the number of drinkers.
Paul, UK

The notion that drinking beer has anything to do with sexuality or even attractiveness is absurd. Haven't Camra and its advertising agency ever heard of beer bellies?
Joseph Nicholas, UK

Ale is a foul drink

David Shall, UK
Ale is a foul drink but I won't mind looking at pictures of half-naked women advertising it next time I'm down the pub with my pint of lager!
David Shall, UK

Camra have it all wrong. I like a pint of ale at any time and I certainly do not fit their stereotype.
Peter, England

Why on earth does it need to be seen as sexy? The quality of the lovely stuff would go downhill if 'fashion drinkers' started buying it. Long live the image of bitter drinkers as bearded middle-aged men drinking in smoky public houses, 'cos I know I'll get a well-priced and great tasting pint.

I enjoy real ales, and I'm devilishly sexy. I rest my case.
Stuart Bell, Cambridge, UK

Mine's a pint. Cheers!

Bob, UK
I'm not an old man (I'm 30) but I do drink real ale. I often drink lager at home but, when I can get it, always real ale in the pub. There is nothing like it. Camra, at last, seem to have got the message that they need to show how good the product is to a younger audience instead of preaching to the converted. Mine's a pint. Cheers.
Bob, UK

Hopefully, real ale will never be "sexy". The thought of my drinking pleasure being ruined by the sort of idiot who currently thinks it's cool to drink alcopops or the latest trendy Venezuelan bottled beer fills me with horror.
John, UK

It's all very well Camra trying to make beer drinking sexy, and good luck to it. I love a pint of Old Nadger's Footroot as much as any man, and the fight against fizz needs imagination and fervour. But the awful truth is easy to find out. Go to the Great British Beer Festival, and you'll find that the old cliched pot-bellied, obscure folk band T-shirted beardie afloat on his own beer farts is still a force to be reckoned with. Cheers!
Rupert Goodwins, UK

Real ale is drunk primarily for its real flavour

Chris Milano, UK
Real ale is drunk primarily for its real flavour, as opposed to bland, gassy lager that is drunk just to get drunk. However, I would very much like to see a campaign to make sure pubs actually look after it and serve it properly - most don't. What is worse is the habit of corrupt publicans of pouring the slops back into the barrel - particularly prevalent in central London. When is the Government and trading standards officers going to start clamping down on these pub rip-off merchants?
Chris Milano, UK

Most things turn sexy after a few pints of real ale...
Ben, Paris, France (British)

Real ale doesn't need to be sexy or fashionable to be the best British drink available, no matter who the drinker is. It stands by its own merits ahead of many continental and almost all American beers.
Andy Millward, UK

Real ale is all about quality and taste. You only have to look at the most popular/successful products in any sector to realise that the British public are not interested in quality and have no taste.
Graeme, England

Camra member
"Camra are trying to do things to bring it to a younger market"
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