Ask the Brewmaster: The Difference Between Drinkable Beer and GREAT Beer
Our brewmaster talks about delivering consistency and innovation in craft brewing
Brewing is a craft marked by constant improvement and attention to minute details. There’s a difference between drinkable beer and great beer and often that particular devil lies in the details. As a brewery’s brand is tied to the consistent delivery of the same flavour with each can, bottle or pint, each batch should be of high quality and consistency, and should deliver on the customer promise. While consistency in brewing one’s core line-up of beers is “user important”, brewers are constantly challenged with creating new award-winning beer recipes to tantalize their customers’ palate and expand their offering (read: their bottom line). Cameron’s brewmaster, Jason Britton shares his view on the delicate balancing act of consistency and innovation to stay on top in a very competitive market.
What does your team do to ensure that every batch is consistent, high-quality beer?
Quality and consistency start from the top. It is a company culture, a mindset, no money is spared when it comes to ingredients or process. If the beer is not ready, well it’s not ready, we will let it mature before we sell it. The brewing team’s diligence and dedication to detail is what makes our beers shine. They need to ensure that quality is embedded in all the steps from raw materials, brewing, aging, filtration, testing, all the way to packaging and distribution.
What about product innovation, how important is it to keep creating new beers?
The marketplace is dynamic and nimble. Beer lovers are thirsty for new flavours. Frankly, creating new beers is quite exciting and fun. We sometimes make more modern styles of beer like our India Brown Ale or historic roggenbier providing a different interpretation of a flavour or style. Our new creations help the consumer explore beer and enlighten their taste buds and hopefully draws attention to our year-round beer styles.
Why do you think Cameron’s core brands (lager, red ale and cream ale) have won awards at beer shows year after year?
These styles are classic, suitable, crowd pleasers that can be consumed for all occasions. They have balance, restraint, and are naked, they have nothing to hide behind and the flavours are very clean.
What about some brand-new beers (12 Mile, Brett Saison, Barley Wines) why do you think the market (and beer experts) have received them so well?
We apply the same Cameron’s brewing philosophy in all beers: brewing with restraint and drawing on a particular style, flavour attribute or ingredient. Good balance is needed to make the beer interesting, but beers can still display punchy, juicy, clean, dominant characteristics.
How do you come up with new recipes, what is usually your inspiration?
We sometimes look for gaps in the market, a trait in a beer style we can focus on, or just a single ingredient. We explore different processes, ingredients and flavour outcomes on our pilot system. Typically, we will work a beer backwards, what we want it to taste like, colour, bitterness, aroma, body, etc. then figure out what ingredients will provide the outcome we want and what brewing obstacles are in our way.
Do you ever worry that certain concoctions won’t turn out?
Some don’t. We will rebrew if we need to, or back burner some brews until we have a fresh idea.