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Consumers deserve to know what they’re getting

Labelling for beer, cider and perry isn’t always transparent, making it hard to know what a product contains, where it’s come from, and what kind of quality consumers can expect.

CAMRA believes this has to change, and we’ve campaigned for labelling transparency throughout our history as an organisation. Unfortunately, misleading practices and unclear labelling are becoming increasingly common, and it’s time that Government take action to protect our rights as consumers.

What about serving styles?

Beer, cider and perry drinkers should be fully informed at the point they make a purchase and using a misleading or confusing method of sale or dispense shouldn’t be allowed.

These practices include things like using handpumps for products other than live beer, misleading marketing of global brands as if they came from small, independent producers, or unclear pricing where prices vary based on the time of day or during events or the price of a half pint is disproportionate.

So what’s next?

Many makers of beer, cider and perry are proud of their ingredients and the provenance of their products, but unfortunately some labelling can be misleading. As consumers, we should be able to make an informed choice about the drinks we buy and the businesses we support.

CAMRA believes that drinks labelling should provide more information, but action from the Government is needed to end the confusing mix of standards currently used by the industry. This has already been done for food, but doesn’t apply to beer, cider and perry.

CAMRA’s campaigning

It’s hard to imagine but there was a time when ABVs (the percentage figure showing the strength of a beer, cider or perry) were fiercely guarded secrets.

In 1976, CAMRA members took on the fight to make sure that consumers had the right to information at the point of sale by collecting beer samples from pubs around the country. The strength of the beer was tested, then published in What’s Brewing and the Good Beer Guide. This move forced brewers’ hands to start sharing information on ABVs for the very first time.

Then during the 1980s, as real ale regained popularity largely through the efforts of CAMRA, it became apparent that many licensees were actively misleading customers by displaying handpumps to serve keg beers, effectively cashing in on the real ale boom without actually serving the product. CAMRA’s campaigning helped to persuade Trading Standards that action should be taken against this practice, meaning a handpump on the bar was an assurance that real ale, cider or perry was being served.

Find out more

Click below to learn more about labelling and transparency. You can find author of Perry: A Drinker’s Guide, Adam Wells, writing about what clearer labelling would bring to the perry experience over on CAMRA’s Learn & Discover platform.

For a different take on labelling, check out Beer by Design from Pete Brown and CAMRA Books.

CAMRA also accredits high quality products to help consumers choose with confidence. Read about the One to Try scheme and what it means.

© Campaign for real ale 2023 - 2024