The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has just signed up its 185,000th member, reinforcing its place among some of the top membership organisations in the UK - and boasting numbers above all but one of the major political parties.
The milestone member was one of hundreds signed up at the recent Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, one of CAMRA's many successful annual events, which saw nearly 15,000 visitors enjoying real ale, real cider and perry last week.
The organisation's current membership puts it ahead of the Conservative Party, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP. Only the Labour Party has more members.
After 45 years of being one of the largest single-issue consumer groups in the world, CAMRA is still seeing nearly 10,000 new members join each year. Issues facing the beer and pubs industry still top the agenda for many, with CAMRA's key campaigns including the protection of pubs from closure, keeping beer affordable and promoting the wellbeing benefits of visiting your local continuing to strike a chord.
CAMRA is also well known for the 200 beer festivals that it runs across the UK, including its flagship Great British Beer Festival, which will be returning to London Olympia this summer from the 8th-12th August and featuring over 900 real ales, other craft beers, ciders and wines.
CAMRA made the headlines last year when it embarked on a member-wide consultation about its future direction and purpose to ensure that it remains relevant 45 years on from its founding. The proposals put forward by the committee charged with running the Revitalisation consultation suggested that CAMRA could make numerous changes to its campaigning and activities to better represent the modern beer and pub world. A final decision on the proposals will take place at CAMRA's Members' Weekend in 2018.
Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman says: "It is fantastic to see our membership continue to grow year on year at such a successful rate. CAMRA remains an attractive organisation in this day and age because of our ability to adapt to the new issues that face the beer and pubs industry. We have seen the world of beer change significantly since 1971, with the rise in breweries and rapid closure rates in pubs, which is why we continually evaluate our purpose and strategy to reflect these changes. As a result, we are looking forward to another 45 year of pub and beer campaigning!"