The Campaign for Real Ale has thrown its support behind Castle Rock Brewery, which wrote an open letter to BBC East Midlands condemning the use of stock images of real ale and community pubs to illustrate a story about alcohol abuse.

Castle Rock Brewery

CAMRA’s national chairman, Nik Antona, said: “It is completely right for Castle Rock Brewery to call on the BBC and other media outlets to stop misrepresenting cask ale and traditional pubs by tarring them with the brush of irresponsible drinking.

“Traditional pubs are the home of responsible drinking, providing a safe, supervised, and social environment to enjoy a drink. Cask ale itself has a lower ABV than wine or spirits, and represents a moderate drink of choice.

“The media should be more mindful of the unconscious bias they are creating in their stories, and should consider giving more focus to the prevalent causes of binge drinking, such as the availability of cheap supermarket booze that is predominantly consumed at home.”

The letter

Dear BBC East Midlands,

On yesterday’s East Midlands Today programme, you ran a brief story exploring the rising costs associated with alcohol abuse and then juxtaposed shots of unconscious people laid out on the street being treated by paramedics with a shot of Harvest Pale being poured, which was on the bar alongside Totally Brewed and Burton Bridge Brewery.

Like many others in Nottingham, our pubs and bars are controlled drinking environments with responsible policies. As we are continually proving, they’re also vitally important spaces. They are places of discovery and exploration, but also of familiarity. They are places for solace, for kindling and maintaining friendships and relationships, for waxing lyrical, taking part in quizzes, checking out live music and awesome events, eating good food, and supporting charity and community alike.

This ill-considered choice of library shot is just one example of many used in the media. It represents a small part of a big problem in which pubs, bars and beer (usually cask beer) are all tarred with the same brush and demonised via association with binge drinking.

If this issue is going to be explored, we suggest that it’s explored thoroughly and fairly, and if the media is only prepared to discuss the ‘consequences’ of a problem (ie alcohol abuse) then we can think of more suitable places to look than well-run pubs and bars and hardworking breweries, starting with ultra cheap supermarket booze.

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