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British beer styles. Where are they heading?

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor David Parker, Professor Michael Taylor


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© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse data from routine quality control samples of beer over a ten year period to provide comparisons with a previous study in 2006 and apply interpretations to the contemporary beer market. Design/methodology/approach: Data from laboratory analysis of 1,469 beers submitted for due diligence quality assurance from commercial microbreweries were analysed. Additional commercial samples were taken for analysis of sour beers and cask conditioned beers as examples of niche product areas. Findings: Style characteristics were summarized as a reference for industry evaluation and as a basis for comparisons. Differences were noted between the characteristics found and those of a similar study in 2006. Average alcohol by volume increased by 1.2 per cent, bitterness levels increased by 6.1 per cent while colour decreased by 22 per cent. These differences suggest that standard UK beers are undergoing change. A study of sour beers indicated specific features in this recently popular style and confirmed the use of a different microbiology. Analysis of cask ales indicated some variability in quality suggesting the need for greater quality control. Research limitations/implications: The comparison with the previous study has limitations as the samples were not individually comparable but were from major established microbreweries and so representative of the industry. The work analysed UK beers only but will act as a base line for comparison to other markets. Moreover, the data may be relevant to other forms of market analysis seeking to identify factors associated to consumer preferences. Practical implications: The data presented have relevance to breweries looking to develop their portfolios and product descriptions, to the drinking public and to regulatory bodies in providing a benchmark for comparisons and for assisting in defining the recently promoted term “craft beer”. Social implications: The findings are relevant to beverage development and consumer education of alcoholic beverages by allowing discrimination between styles with different characteristics affecting consumer choice and when assessing styles for industrial, legislative and health research. Beers today appear to be more varied than in past decades but show lower colour and higher bitterness characteristics. As these features particularly relate to ingredients they may have implications in their contributions to diet and health. Originality/value: The work has value in replicating the previous study to illustrate changes and trends. It presents novel data on recently popular sour beers and assesses traditional cask beer with implications for product quality.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Parker D, Taylor M, Johnson JR, Thomas KR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Food Journal

Year: 2020

Volume: 122

Issue: 1

Pages: 60-74

Print publication date: 06/01/2020

Online publication date: 02/10/2019

Acceptance date: 17/08/2019

ISSN (print): 0007-070X

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1108/BFJ-12-2018-0842


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