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Feature

Restaurants need more bottle on the table

Added: Wednesday, April 20th 2016

beer and food

New independent research from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) shows that more than one in three people would visit restaurants more often if they served a range of craft- brewed British beer. 

The organisation says that, despite the growth in the popularity of craft-brewed beer, the majority of restaurants in the UK are not meeting consumer demand. SIBA would like to set up meetings with small and large restaurants chains to offer them a solution that suits their business so they can benefit from the growing interest in craft beer.

SIBA is also encouraging its brewing members to use its research to open doors with their own local, independent restaurants. 

Nick Stafford, SIBA’s Operation’s Director, says, Craft-brewed beer is growing in popularity across the UK and the restaurants that have recognised this and started to serve a range of interesting, flavoursome beers have thrived. Unfortunately though most restaurants don’t put in the same effort when it comes to beer as they do when selecting their wine list, something our new research suggests could be seriously damaging their commercial potential.  

“This new research shows that over a third of people would visit restaurants more if they served craft-brewed beer. It seems consumers are wanting more than the traditional brands associated with perhaps an Indian or Italian restaurant. SIBA has access to thousands of different beers and therefore we would like to work with restaurants in the UK to create the right beer solutions for their businesses.” 

SIBA currently represents more than 850 independent brewers who brew in excess of 5,000 different beers that offer a wide range of colours, tastes, strengths and styles. SIBA’s “BeerFlex” service is already used by many of the large pub-companies to supply their pubs with independently brewed craft beer from SIBA members, and the not-for-profit organisation says the model is now being adapted to work for restaurants too, with a focus on bottle, canned and kegged beer, which is easier for restaurants to store and for their staff to manage. 

The advances made in quality bottled, canned and craft-keg beer means that it has never been easier for outlets beyond pubs to sell beer. Craft-brewed, canned beer generally comes in smaller 330ml cans, which can be stacked, fit neatly in fridges and get cool quickly -- making them the perfect choice for restaurants who want to serve beer but don’t have the space or expertise to look after draught beer lines,” Nick Stafford adds. 

It’s clear that the quality of beer in the UK has never been better and there has never been this much choice. From classic British Golden Ales, stouts and porters, to American influenced IPAs and Pale Ales, or even Belgian inspired saisons and sour beers -- the breadth of styles being brewed in the UK in 2016 is staggering. 

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It’s clear that the quality of beer in the UK has never been better and there has never been this much choice. From classic British Golden Ales, stouts and porters, to American influenced IPAs and Pale Ales, or even Belgian inspired saisons and sour beers -- the breadth of styles being brewed in the UK in 2016 is staggering. 

One restaurant that is getting it right, and was named the UK’s Best Independent Craft Beer Restaurant by SIBA, is Bundobust in Leeds, which fuses Indian street food with local and international craft beer. 

Beer was always going to be the star of the show at Bundobust. We took the nations favourite drink and the nation’s favourite food and put them together in a unique way. We have a beer list of 90 beers and all of them complement our Indian street food. From Hoppy IPAs and pales, to salty goses brewed with coriander, and wheat beers that complement and cut through the spice” says Mark Husak owner of the restaurant..

“Bombay Dazzler, our house beer brewed by the local Northern Monk, is a Witbier brewed with Belgian yeast, coriander, ginger & cardamom. It's light and easy and is the perfect accompaniment to our food. We are a casual Indian restaurant and we feel there is no better drink than beer to go with our food,” Husak adds. He feels the tide is turning and more restaurants are now discovering the importance of a good beer list to their business. 

 "Until recently the standard of beer in restaurants has been pretty poor. Even in high end places where the wine lists were amazing, beer was always a second thought and mainstream brews were the only ones on offer. Thankfully this is changing and forward-thinking restaurants are starting to have cracking beer lists. From burger places like MeatLiquour and Byron to high end restaurants like Hawksmoor and Manchester House, beer with its many complex varieties and styles is being taken seriously and often is a better choice than wine. What's better than a Belgian Wit with Fish & Chips, an IPA with a curry, or a Barley Wine with a cheese board?” Husak asks.

Eight UK restaurants serving craft-brewed beer 

East of England

The Brewery Tap, Peterborough 

The combination of delicious, authentic Thai dishes served alongside Oakham brewery's famously hoppy, aromatic beers is a winning one. Add to that the setting, with the restaurant perched on a mezzanine floor overlooking the bar and brewery, and you’ve got a restaurant unlike anywhere else in the UK.

 Midlands      

Purecraft Bar & Kitchen, Birmingham & Nottingham

Craft-brewed beer is front and centre in Purecraft, with an extensive draught beer and bottled menu and a food offering that not only pairs the dishes with different beers but even features them too - how does Bavette steak with beer butter followed by Odells Cutthroat Porter Sticky Toffee Pudding sound?

 North East 

 Bundobust, Leeds

SIBA’s Best Independent Craft Beer Restaurant 2016, Bundobust is a must-visit in a city blessed with more than it’s fair share of excellent specialist beer bars and eateries. Extra points can also be awarded for being a vegetarian restaurant that meat-lovers still flock to - when the beer and bhajis are this good who needs beef?

 Honorable mention: Starre Inn,York

A Michelin starred riverside restaurant serving fantastic beer in a cosy, pub-like setting.

 North West     

 Manchester House, Manchester

Aiden Byrne’s lavish restaurant is hotly tipped for a Michelin star so go now before it gets one and the bookings sky-rocket even further. Also make sure you have a look at the excellent beer menu when visiting as it is well-chosen, largely local, and perfectly suited for pairing with the exciting dining menu. Surely a model for other high-end restaurants to follow.

 Scotland     

 Timberyard, Edinburgh

The fresh, modern menu at Edinburgh’s Timberyard is complemented by an equally well-chosen and distinctly unusual beer list that focuses on British brewers doing something a little bit different. Whether it’s a sour style from Burning Sky Brewery or a saison or well-hopped pale ale from Wild Beer Co or The Kernel, the beers are as precise and well-thought out as the food.

 South East 

 Duke’s Brew & Que, London

The original home of the excellent Beavertown brewery, Duke’s Brew & Que specialises in authentic American barbecue and an extensive beer list comprising cask, craft keg, bottled and canned beers from Beavertown and other local breweries. The original beer & BBQ spot is still a must-visit if in London.

South West

 Wild Beer at Jessop House, Cheltenham

Run by the excellent South West brewery Wild Beer Co, this is a restaurant that takes its beer seriously but delivers it with a laid-back atmosphere and effortlessness that has to be experienced to be believed. Seasonal, modern fare is perfectly suited to pairing with Wild Beer Co's varied and often unusual beers, which range from rich red-wine-like ales to sharp, bright and citrussy sours.

Wales & West

 Urban Tap House, Cardiff

Definitely more of a pub than a restaurant, but how could we feature Wales and not talk about SIBA’s Independent Craft Beer Pub of the Year The Urban Taphouse and their awesome beer and burgers? The combination of Tiny Rebel’s amazing beers and a great range of house-made burgers is a simple formula that never fails to impress.

*The research was conducted by independent research company M&C Allegra Foodservice.