Tuesday 31 May 2011

Byron Burger Craft Beer List

For the past few months I’ve been working on the most exciting project I’ve been involved with since I started writing about beer: putting together a beer list for Byron Hamburger.

The brief was to come up with a selection of the best beers from around the world to be part of a “Summer of Craft Beer”. Easy, right? Not quite. We needed a mix of beers, we needed beers which work well with burgers, we needed them to be in 330ml bottles, they had to look good in the fridge and on the table, we needed them to be always available to fulfil orders to all the branches (the 15th location is opening soon with more to follow later in the year), they had to be affordable, they had to appeal to the drinker who had never passed Peroni but also had to stand up to the critique of a beer geek, and they all had to taste great.

A wide choice of beers at the first tasting; some just to show the variety of beers, others for serious consideration for the beer list
We began by holding a huge tasting of beers with senior members of Byron staff at Camden Town Brewery (Camden started working with Byron and suggested I get involved as well). This also featured a brewery tour to understand beer and a talk about why beer is important and how it works with food. We poured about 40 beers, talking through each of them and allowing Byron staff to taste and experience a breadth of good beer before choosing some favourites.

We narrowed the selection down to about 15 and tasted again. Then the list was cut down to a final 10 based on all of our favourites and the ones which stood up best in the taste tests.

The final list of 10 craft beers is:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Brooklyn Lager
Camden Town Hells Lager
Camden Town Wheat Beer
Goose Island Honkers Ale
Odell Cutthroat Porter
Little Creatures Pale Ale
BrewDog Punk IPA
Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA
Kernel IPA

These will now sit on the menu alongside Peroni, Negro and London Pride, which have been on the drinks list since Byron began (SNPA and Brooklyn are also carried over from the original menu).

There’s a mix of British (mostly London because all Byron locations are currently in London), American (because it’s an American-style burger joint) and Australian (because everyone loved Little Creatures); a lot of beers using US hops because we felt these worked best with burgers; an approachable pale lager from Camden, a dark beer from Odell and some bigger beers for the braver drinkers in the Flying Dog and Kernel: it’s a taster of some of the great beers which are available in the UK.

I’ve since been training staff from all restaurants so if you go and any of them come out with pearls of wonderful information about these beers then I’ll take the credit... It’s also been great to talk through these beers with people who have never tried anything like them before to see what they think and how they react: Little Creatures always gets a good response, so do the Camden beers, the Kernel impresses people with flavour and aroma they never thought could exist in a beer, the Punk and the porter divide people with many being surprised by the porter.

A massive Byron feast - the only thing missing is craft beer!
As a starter beer list I think it’s excellent and if the summer of craft beer is a success then hopefully it will develop into a permanent fixture of the Byron offering with a broader choice of brews. The beers are in the fridges from today so if you want a great beer served with a fantastic burger (because Byron hamburgers are brilliant) then you know where to go.

What do you think of the list?

I've written about beer and burgers a few times before. There's venison burger with Czech cherry lager, a trip to California where I survived on burgers and beer alone for over a week and then a beer and a burger whilst watching baseball.


  1. I think that’s a great list and will hunt out one of their outlets as soon as I get a moment — I love Little Creatures, but always felt it a delicate little child so I think I think I missed a trick there with matching it. Yum.

  2. Dredge the pure legend strikes again. Very good work indeed. Next time I'm down south I will try and hunt it out.

  3. Now you just have to persuade the pubco's that they should earmark 1 fridge for this selection of beers. Imagine that !! Pure joy.


  4. ATJ - Every time I open a Little Creatures it's met with lots of 'yums'. I think it'll probably sell really well on the list!

    Rob - Cheers! There's plenty of them to find.

    Ben - If only! Maybe I'll make that my next project... a great beer fridge in every pub!

  5. sounds like somewhere to pop out for lunch when I'm working at GBBF. Good work on getting some good beers into the list.

  6. Very impressive list, SO impressive that I put Byron at the top of my list of London restaurants with good beer lists.

    Well done Mark!

  7. Looks fantastic, all I can think about now is having some craft beer and a burger! Pairing like this should be mandatory at every burger stall!

  8. Sounds awesome! I've done something similar with Primo's Gourmet Hotdog's in Leeds, who are now going to be stocking more American craft beer. They previously stocked only brooklyn lager, which is in itself impressive as they didnt go for the obvious american choice of Bud.

    They're now looking to stock some beers from goose island, flying dog and anchor, sourced from James Clay importers. If you're ever up norf' then give us a bell

  9. Great list - good to see some Aussie representation. Did I spot some Coopers Pale in the picture? Not surprised it fell to Little Creatures, but did you try any Coopers Sparkling? A bigger, better beer, but not as readily available over here. Now if only James Squire would send some Amber Ale over!

  10. You couldn't have picked a better batch of US craft brews to go with burgers and fries, sorry chips!

  11. Hang on, surely Brooklyn Lager can't be a proper craft beer - it's brewed under licence at FX Matt. And Goose Island are ABInBev's glove puppet - not even the American Brewer's Association would recognise that as a craft beer! (cackles, runs away)

  12. Craft in the broadest sense of the word!

    Seriously though, I like Goose Island stuff, but you're right ABinBev has got their grip on them; however that does make it easier for me to get. Contract brewing on the other hand has kept a good number of small, regional breweries open, across the US. Matt has been brewing for a long time. Utica Club, is one of the defining New York beers. If creating the Saranac line the early 90s and then contracting with Sam Adams and Brooklyn keeps the doors open – more power to them.

  13. As far a Brooklyn goes, if it tates good—and it does—what differnce to me if it's brewed in Brooklyn or Utica?

  14. On the Brooklyn count Craig, not one jot of import - I'm just being mischievous.

  15. I knew you were kidding! Although, you did give me something to write about for tomorrow!

  16. Very limited in range is how I see the list. 6 Pale Ales and only one dark beer. It's a bit like the "boring brown beer" selection everyone moans about real ale pubs having.

  17. Stephanos - There's a Byron just around the corner from Earls Court and GBBF!

    Sam - Cheers! You've got a good list there.

    Neil - Beer and hot dogs - brilliant!

    Lorraine - We had Coopers Pale and Sparkling at the original tasting. Ultimately they were too similar to other things we had on the list and everyone liked Little Creatures too much to get rid of it!

    Craig - Cheers! I'm pleased with the list. I'm going to try and get to Byron tonight to get myself a beer and burger!

    Zak - The Goose Island we tasted was brewed before ABInBev jumped in... does that count?! ;) As for Brooklyn... with their new expansion they'll be about to make 12x more beer in Brooklyn and not have to send it upstate. And I'm happy calling them craft!

    Anon - Where to begin...

    1. The clue is in the name with BORING brown beer. There may be a few pale ales but they are EXCITING pale ales.

    2. We felt pale ales worked best with burgers.

    3. Have you tried all of these pale beers? They are very different. Punk IPA, SNPA, Little Creatures, Kernel...

    4. London Pride is still on the list. There's Goose Island Honkers (have you seen how dark that is? It's an English bitter) and a porter. That's pretty good, right?

  18. That is a very fine list, exciting pale ales indeed. Haven't had little creatures in ages, that is a beautiful beer.

    You lucky, lucky dog. I need to get to a Byron, STAT.

  19. We're off to Byron on for Orange Weds in the Westfield. Hangover II and a Little Creatures for me

  20. Really just repeating what's been said before but hey who said comments had to be original.

    Little Creatures for me is drinking in Freo, or for that matter anywhere in WA and knowing that I don't have to go to work the next day. If I can get a bit of that feeling with a Byron burger to boot then i'll be there every day. Good to see Kernel and Camden in there also. They can do no wrong!

    Also great to see Byron seeing the value of good beer. Knowing that this list in place would sway me every time so great if it stays in place, or becomes a seasonal variation.

  21. A lot of fairly light ales and lagers there. The selection of American stuff is a bit pedestrian and a bit macro. Having said that, this is a burger joint and these choices are appropriate.

  22. Hi Mark
    Indeed it is a great list since then i often go to Byron outlets!However i think you miss one amasing new French craft: BELLEROSE. The beer has just been released by "La brasserie des Sources" a small craft brewery located in Northern France. And guess what? It has been awarded "best ale over 5.0% in the UK" along gold medalits at the International Beer Challenge last september in London.

    You have to try it! I may be able to do something :-)