Price: $25/year, $40/year for families
Notes: Monthly beer-oriented meetings, inside info on Beerfest and some serious beer geek cred. There's no reason not join!
CAMRA stands for Campaign for Real Ales (here's a link to the wikipedia entry for those who want a more detailed history than I'm going to go into here). It is an international movement promoting beer brewed in a small scale that is consumed locally, as well as ciders, other craft-brews and pub culture in general.
Our local chapter here in Victoria is particularly active, and are the primary force behind the Great Canadian Beerfest. There are monthly meetings, which are usually held somewhere that sells local beer in some form or other, and is combined with some kind of informative talk. As a result, you learn a lot about beer - what's good, where to brew your own, why it costs so much, where the best stuff is, how you're supposed to serve it (etc). You also get the inside scoop on Beerfest, including (but not limited to) first chance for volunteering which means Free Tickets (among other perks) - and I hear the volunteer after party is pretty stellar! As anyone who has ever tried to purchase Beerfest tickets knows they sell out in about 3 minutes, so joining has definite perks in that department.
We first found out about it while at a beer & cheese dinner at Phillips. We arrived early, but rather than hang around for too long we went for a quick walk. By the time we arrived back our selection of seating had dwindled to the one table without anyone remotely close to our age. Turns out, it was the best seating in the house - next to several members of CAMRA including two of the founding members of Beerfest, John & Carol Rowling. Carol is pretty quiet, although you can see that she had a hand in things, and John is pretty much a beer savant. I learn something every time I talk to him! I sometimes feel like John and Carol are a peek into the future... except we've managed to swing things so quiet little me is secretly taking notes for publishing while my p.i.f.a.l. is schmoozing the crowd.
To be honest I'm kind of a lapsed member... we show up to meetings once or twice a year but somehow never make it to the rest of them. Still - we're always greeted warmly every time we come, and although initially when we joined a few years ago we brought down the average age of members quite significantly, that is slowly changing and to be honest until someone else pointed it out I hadn't really noticed, we were all just beer geeks!
The last meeting I went to was the "bring a new member night" where the club takes over the penthouse suite at Swans, gets a keg of beer (which you still have to pay for. Free beer is not allowed) and some appies. The place gets packed to the brim with people drinking and chatting. Luckily you can escape to the roof for a panoramic view of the city. So awesome!