OPINION: Quality and consistency key to longevity of great beers

Still winning awards: Georgina Young collects another trophy for Tribute, which was first brewed 25 years ago
Still winning awards: Georgina Young collects another trophy for Tribute, which was first brewed 25 years ago

Related tags Georgina Young St austell Cask ale Cellar management Opinion

As brewers, it’s our job to be both consistent but also innovative in bringing new beers to life.

Tribute, our flagship pale ale, is probably the beer most synonymous with St Austell Brewery, and it’s one that’s stood the test of time.

The fact that Tribute is still winning medals in 2024, more than a quarter century on from when it was first brought to life, is quite phenomenal.

The beer started its life as a test brew called Daylight Robbery, for our 1999 Celtic Beer Festival, to commemorate the solar eclipse. It was such a hit that we put it into main production. It soon became one of our best-loved beers and that’s down to consistency. You can brew a good beer once but getting it right every time is the key.

Last week, we picked up the two awards from the International Brewing Awards for Tribute (bottle and cask) and I couldn’t be prouder.

Consistent in all aspects

Its long success is largely down to being consistent in all aspects of brewing – from meeting at the farm to check the barley harvest to heading to the US to choose our Willamette hops, ensuring we get the same blackcurrant and parma violet flavours coming through in each brew.

We’re also committed to quality throughout every stage of our brewing process and in our pubs.

We’re lucky to have forged great relationships with our suppliers and farmers – in fact we’ve been working with the same barley farmers in Cornwall since the late 90s.

Our ethos is to never compromise and, with that, comes the result of a tried and tested beer. People can rely on Tribute every time they head to the pub or pick up a can or bottle in the supermarket.

The process to reach consistency changes throughout the year and is dependent on so many things. For example, how well our barley grows throughout the changing seasons. The hours of sunshine and amount of rainfall during a season affects yields and flavours when it comes to barley, as well as our hop supply.

Robust processes

It’s a brewer’s job to continuously tweak the recipe, according to these external factors, ensuring every batch is as consistent as possible for beer drinkers. We ensure the same ABV, colour, bitterness and taste profile in each and every pint.

We have robust processes in our brewery quality management system that all contribute towards consistency too, having recently achieved incredible results in our BRC Start! Audit who we are working with going forward.

While we love and cherish Tribute – as so many beer drinkers do – brewing is not just about being consistent with our long-standing beers. It’s also about being able to adapt and change.

We’ve just rebranded Proper Job IPA (although the popular recipe hasn’t changed) and we’ll be launching a bottled low-alcohol version in future too.

While we’re always looking at the market and innovating to keep up with new trends and tastes, we’ll never neglect our core beers that have resonated with our loyal drinkers for decades.

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