The online launch of the Oxford Drinker in late September has been a big success, attracting over 600 views a day when a new post is added. To help spread the word further, A4 colour posters are now available to print at home or collect from behind the bar at Oxford CAMRA’s City Pub of the Year, the Royal Blenheim.
Smartphone users can scan the bar code on the poster to go straight to this website, to read the latest pub and brewery news and views from around the area, plus guest columnists and the ever-popular Down Memory Lane. Get a poster now and put it up in your local pub, library, work-place or anywhere else that drinkers might see it. A JPG version to print at home is being sent to all subscribers to Oxford CAMRA’s events feed, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been ten months – too long! – since a new printed edition of the Oxford Drinker was last produced. First published in 1999 as a two-page, black-and-white newsletter, it grew to become a full colour magazine produced every two months packed with news, views and features, and the last edition (January-March 2020) was issue number 115.
But all good things come to an end, and although a new issue was planned for April/May, then came Covid-19. During lockdown we considered producing a limited print run so we could at least tell people how CAMRA was working to try and protect pubs and breweries, but how would we distribute it? With all pubs and most other public buildings closed, brewery deliveries would have been our only outlet.
Soon after pubs re-opened in July came the news that most did not want to stock printed material such as the Oxford Drinker any more, as people often thumb through the magazine and put it back, posing a virus transmission risk. CAMRA advised branches not to print magazines for the time being, and we also faced the major hurdle of raising enough advertising from hard-pressed pubs and breweries to cover the printing cost.
While many branches have produced PDF versions of their magazines so that you can “turn the pages” online, we didn’t see the point of that as PDF files are a fixed format – frozen at the time the content was written. We decided to launch online instead, meaning we can update this website whenever there’s a new story to tell.
We haven’t ruled out re-introducing a printed magazine at some stage, and we are conscious that there are many people without online access or who simply don’t like reading online that we can no longer reach. To them we apologise, but circumstances were forced upon us and we must now seize the opportunities presented by an online format to provide content that’s much more up-to-date than a printed magazine could ever be. Even if the printed version does one day return, we would expect the website to be first choice for most readers. Many thanks to all those who distributed printed copies and the pubs that acted as collection points — we may need you again one day.
For our launch we have news and views from across the local pub and brewery scene – a new brewery and new pub ventures included – and who could have predicted this during the darkest days of lockdown? Get up to date with how pubs look and feel today with ON TOUR, read the inspiring story of Tap Social Movement and how this small brewery is expanding (PROFILE), enjoy our guest columnists and take a trip DOWN MEMORY LANE to long-gone pubs both near and far.
There is no doubt that this is the most difficult period that pubs and breweries have faced – at least since World War Two – but whatever challenges they are up against, we will support them however we can. Come and join us!
After seven years editing the magazine I’m very excited to be moving to an online format, despite the very difficult circumstances that will be with us for some time to come. Oxford CAMRA, like all branches, is not holding any meetings or organised social outings for the foreseeable future, with the Oxford Beer and Cider Festival due to take place at the Town Hall in October a major event missing from this year’s diary. But t least we now have this!
So, how can you get involved? First and foremost, tell everyone you know that we are now online and spread the message through social media. A poster will be available very soon to print at home or collect from a city centre pub (details to come) announcing our re-launch – please put one up in your local. Sign up for email alerts so we can tell you what’s happening, with the option of getting news as it happens, or weekly updates. Most importantly, encourage any pub or brewery with a story to tell to get in touch (see CONTACT). And if you’d like to write for us, drop me a line.