By James Atkinson

Brewers and retailers must be aware that craft beer can taste very different by the time it makes it from the brewery to the bottle shop, according to some of the country's top brewing authorities.

At last month's Beer & Brewer Conference, brewing science lecturer Hugh Dunn said brewers need to look at their beer "not just fresh out of the brewery, but also out in the trade".

"If you are selling bottled beer, have someone in the market you're in buy a sample, taste it and keep an eye on how your product's surviving out in the marketplace," he said.

Little Creatures founder Howard Cearns said taste testing is critical regardless of whether specifications would have brewers believe that their beer is consistent.

"Particularly with our Pale Ale, we've done that since day one," he said.

"Always taste, taste, taste, regardless of what the numbers say. We are working with fresh ingredients. The recipe might be the same every time but it doesn't mean it's going to taste the same."

"Listen to what people are saying about your beer and about the variations that are going to happen over time.

"If you get your product wrong, your days are numbered."

Brennan Fielding of Queensland's Burleigh Brewing Company, which recently won a Gold Medal in the World Beer Cup, added that beer will inevitably start to go downhill as soon as it has been bottled.

"I'm a big supporter of craft beer going out to a local market," he said.

"The closer you can keep the beer to your home town or the brewery, hopefully the quicker it gets consumed and the more shelf-stable it is."

"If you have a well-made beer sitting on a shelf for nine months in the warm part of a bottle shop, I guarantee it's not going to taste the same as the first week you bottled it or the first six weeks you bottled it."

"Stock rotation is critical," Fielding said. 

The Shout Team

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