Real ale may be all the rage these days but it seems for young people the joy of ‘proper’ beer has passed them by.
It may be that the popular perception of bearded, middle-aged men wearing jumpers and grumbling into their glasses leaves them anxious not to get involved.
Now Paul Laxton, chairman of real ale campaign group Huddersfield CAMRA, has called for “new blood, urgently” given its ageing membership.
He says this is the “seed of its destruction” and writing in the current issue of Ale Talk he says of the branch’s membership 75% are over 45 years old, 50% are in the 46-65 age bracket but just 8% are under 35.
He says the local committees and activists “remain dominated by white men of a certain age and a certain social class.”
And he adds: “CAMRA HQ claims that 70% of members are in social classes ABC1 compared with 55% of the general population.
“It doesn’t particularly worry me if CAMRA fails the kind of diversity test usually set by the BBC and The Guardian.
“After all we are not going to appeal to those who profess Islam as they are forbidden to drink and it would appear that most of them observe the prohibition.
“Neither are we going to appeal to those who prefer to consume gin and tonics in exclusive gentlemen’s clubs.”
Mr Laxton says he tried personally to boost the branch’s 762 membership by recruiting students during Freshers’ Week at the University of Huddersfield.
But he admits it was not a happy experiment saying he “failed dismally.”
Mr Laxton says: “By the time this edition of Ale Talk hits the local pubs and clubs the agm will have taken place and a new committee elected.
“I would be amazed if any of the offices are contested and expect that some posts will remain unfilled.
“We need new blood, urgently. Never mind dry January, make it your resolution to get active in CAMRA next year.”
Mitchell Burke, a 25-year-old croupier and former University of Huddersfield student who enjoys real ale, said: “When we had the old Students Union bar there was Black Sheep on and sometimes another guest ale but it’s true that young people don’t tend to be interested in it.
“After all, when did you ever hear of a nightclub serving real ale?
“And, for example, the new students union bar at The Zetland doesn’t have it on as there’s no demand for it.
“Younger people tend to go for some kind of bottled lager or spirits.
“Real ale is not that cool in that age group and I think guys tend to be influenced by what women are drinking too and you don’t see that many young women with pints of real ale.”