Grant revealed: “John Keeling’s commitment and passion for quality beer is evident to anyone that meets him, and his work for one of the UK’s most iconic brewers over the past 40 years has seen him dust off the brewing records and revive historic recipes as well as look to the future, inviting some of Britain’s finest independent brewers to join him at the mash tun.
“A fervent defender of the lunchtime pint, the winner of this year’s lifetime achievement award is not only an extremely worthy recipient but someone we’d recommend you grab a beer with.”
Previous winners of the award include beer author Roger Protz and George Philliskirk, former director of the Beer Academy, who were both recognised in 2015.
More than 40 years in the industry
Keeling joined the brewing industry in 1974 as a laboratory technician for Wilson’s Brewery in Newton Heath, Manchester.
He left in 1977 to study for a degree in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, before joining Fuller’s as a junior brewer in 1981. Keeling has since held a number of positions at Fuller’s culminating in his promotion to brewing director in April 1999.
Before handing over the reins to Georgina Young, Fuller’s first female head brewer in January 2017, Keeling oversaw the investment of more than £60m in developing the brewery.
In December 2017, Keeling was appointed chairman of the London Brewers’ Alliance.
Keeling said: “I’ve dedicated my life to brewing great beer – and I’ve loved every second of it – so being recognised for doing something you enjoy is a double delight.
“I’d like to think that, in some small way, I’ve helped and inspired a number of the craft brewers who are producing such interesting beers today.
"It’s over 40 years since I first set foot in a brewery and some 37 years since I joined Fuller’s.
“Reg Drury, the legendary former Fuller’s head brewer, was instrumental in my success and I hope, and am confident, that I have passed the same degree of knowledge and passion on to Georgina Young and the next generation of brewers at Fuller’s.”