UK breweries should do more to stay true to their roots and avoid the temptation to frequently look to the US for inspiration, Fuller’s John Keeling tells The Brewers Journal.
Keeling, who is talking at The Brewers Congress in London this November, says the balance when it comes to brewing inspiration is far too skewed.
He explained: “When you look at craft breweries in the UK today, I would say that 80% of their inspiration comes from the US when only 20%, if that, comes from closer to home.
“I think this industry here is still too slavish to America. We need to develop our own identity and our own beer styles should be at the forefront of that.
“We also need to capitalise on the newfound popularity of beer but we need to do that without throwing the baby out with the bath water and ignore quality beer and styles produced in the UK, too.”
Fuller’s recently announced that it had worked with Moor Beer, Marble and Hardknott, as well as Cloudwater, Fourpure and Thornbridge on a new collaboration six-pack, ‘Fuller’s & Friends’ .
The beers, which will be available at Waitrose later this year, are the result of six members of the Fuller’s brewing team partnering up with each brewer.
Keeling said that such projects were the “best side” of collaboration.
He said: “Seeing our young brewers working with other breweries, developing themselves at the same time was very rewarding. It’s the best side of collaboration.
“I refuse to do a collaboration when a member of our sales team come in and tells me that they’ve met someone and we should do a brew with them.
“These relationships need to come through the brewing team, nowhere else. You talk to people, you meet people, you find out common ground. And then you build from there.”
Keeling will use his talk in London this November 27th to ask if brewing is an art, or a science.
He added: “With beer, there is quality and consistency plus flavour and character. For a great beer you need them in perfect balance. If anything is lacking then you don’t have a great beer.
“Look at the Budweisers and Guinness of the world. Quality and consistency is there but the beer has lost its personality.
“But you could also name start-ups that look at flavour and character but you just don’t know what you are going to get when you try that beer. It’s a delicate balance.”