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
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
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?