Ten UK chefs and restaurants that make their own beer
While beer has never knocked wine off the top position of drinks paired with food in the UK, we’ve rounded up 10 chefs and restaurants that have produced their own brews in an effort to promote the tipple in their establishments.
Speaking to the drinks business, beer expert and co-founder of the Beer Academy, Rupert Ponsonby, said that “the restaurant industry in the UK has been slow to latch on to the excitement of beer, and too few have educated and enthused their staff”.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) highlighted the problem back in 2016 and urged the UK restaurant industry to broaden drinks lists. In a survey, the group found that one in three people would eat out more often if there were a greater number of craft beers on offer.
While there is undoubtedly a lot of work still to be done, Laura Edwards, general manager at Meantime Brewery, is positive about progress in the UK.
“Restaurants seem to be recognising that craft beer is reinvigorating interest in the category. They are increasingly expanding the choice they offer for their customers and diversifying their ranges,” she said.
Last year, Meantime collaborated with UK restaurant chain Wagamama to release two beers designed to be served alongside Asian food. Scroll through to view more UK chef/restaurant beer collaborations, and for an in-depth examination of the state of beer in restaurants, take a look at the on-trade beer feature in the March issue of the drinks business magazine.
Rick Stein and Sharp’s Brewery
In 2007, following the death of his beloved Jack Russel Terrier, Chalky, TV chef and restaurateur Rick Stein released a beer in collaboration with Sharp’s Brewery in his honour. While the beer was actually brewed before Chalky died in January, it was later released as a posthumous tribute.
Called Chalky’s Bite, the beer was developed by the then head brewer of Sharp’s, Stuart Howe. Stein challenged him to create a beer that paired particularly well with the seafood served in his restaurants.
The beer, which is still available, is made with Cornish fennel, Cornish malted barley and three different hops.
In August 2009, Stein released a sister beer, Chalky’s Bark, designed to pair with spicy food. Speaking to the drinks business at the time, Stein said: “We developed Chalky’s Bite as the perfect beer to accompany seafood. The result was so satisfying that I asked Stuart to produce another beer with thirst quenching capabilities to go with spicy food. I wanted it to complement a range of South East Asian recipes I have been working on. Chalky’s Bark is a beer fragrant with the flavour of hops but at 4.5% abv its something you can enjoy a couple of bottles of”.
Chalky famously appeared alongside Stein in a number of his television programmes.
Speaking about his life, Stein said: “He got up to some mighty capers, leaping to bite a microphone, snarling at our cameraman so fiercely that we thought twice about using the film and fearing his shocking fangs which would frighten children. He dispatched rats and caused consternation by doing the same with a rabbit or two.
“He was loved by my children. He swam and jumped on boats, he attacked crabs, ran rings round Alsatians and Border Collies being much fiercer and never backing down, ever.
“He scampered over a Duke’s lawns and petrified me that he might bite the Prince of Wales, but he didn’t. Most of all though we knew him at home as rather an unassuming, diffident dog. He was never greedy; he pestered you a bit for walks but not too much and kept reasonably quiet. But, my God he hated postmen and I don’t know why. If he couldn’t get at them, he’d rip the letters to shred”.
Hix and Palmers Brewery
The Hix restaurant group works with Palmers Brewery in Dorset to supply its beer. Chef, restaurateur and food writer Mark Hix opened his first eponymous restaurant in 2008 in Farringdon. He now has sites in Mayfair and Soho as well as Tramshed in Shoreditch and Hixter Bankside. In 2016, Hix and friend Damien Hirst opened Pharmacy 2 in Vauxhall. Outside of London, Hix has two sites in Dorset: Hix Oyster & Fish House and Hix Townhouse, a boutique hotel, both in Lyme Regis.
The Hix range of beers is created for the restaurant group by 200-year-old Palmers Brewery in Bridport. Palmers produces Hix Blonde (4.5%), Hix IPA (4.5%) and Hix Oyster Ale (5.5%) served in 500ml bottles in Hix restaurants.
Founded in 1794, Palmers produces five beers of its own: Copper Ale, Dorset Gold, Tally Ho, Palmers IPA and Palmers 200. It also operates a number of pubs in the south west of England.
Michel Roux Jr and Fourpure
In 2014, chef Michel Roux Jr of the multi Michelin-starred Roux restaurant empire held a competition with the London Brewer’s Alliance. London brewers competed for the chance to brew the house beer to be served at Le Gavroche, Roux at Parliament Square and Roux at the Landau restaurants.
Bermondsey brewer Fourpure was crowned the winner, developing a beer flavoured with pink grapefruit zest, Sicilian Navelina orange zest and coriander seeds.
At the time, Roux said: “The freshness of the grapefruit and orange zest and coriander seed really stood out – this is a beer that has a sing about it , and we feel it will partner perfectly with the flavours of our summer menu”.
However, speaking to the drinks business for this month’s on-trade beer feature, Roux Jr. revealed that he no longer has a beer brewed under his name as he had struggled to use up stock before the expiration date.
He told db: “I no longer have a beer brewed under my name. I run restaurants so it’s harder to use up stocks of beer than it is at more beer-dedicated venues”.
Instead, Roux Jr. now works with fellow Bermondsey brewer Brew by Numbers to produce the house saison beer for his upmarket gastro pub The Wigmore.
Tom Kitchin and Isle of Skye Brewing
In 2015, chef and restaurateur Tom Kitchin, of the Michelin-starred The Kitchin, collaborated with Isle of Skye Brewing Co. to produce Yer Ben, a 5.5% pale ale dedicated to his grandfather and now sold in his restaurants.
Kitchin also owns sister restaurant Castle Terrace and bistro The Scran & Scallie, and in December last year, announced that he was opening a fourth restaurant in the Scottish capital.
In a recent interview with the drinks business, Kitchin said he’s planning to add one dish with a beer pairing option to his tasting menu.
On pairing with beer with food, he said: “Some beers with higher ABVs are for example, slightly richer and darker and therefore complement winter meat dishes, or a sweeter beer could be used to match a dessert.
Kitchin has even used beer in a dessert, producing an ice cream using his Yer Ben beer, for example.
“As well as using Yer Ben at The Kitchin in some of our desserts, we also often use a dark beer in our steak pie at The Scran & Scallie. We try to use beer in cocktails throughout the group which often give a lovely mouth feel,” he added.
Margot and Wimbledon Brewery
In December last year, Covent Garden-based Italian restaurant Margot announced that it was launching a lager brewed by Wimbledon Brewery.
Founder of Wimbledon Brewery, Mark Gordon, told the drinks business that given that the beer had been used so successfully in other products, the idea of creating an exclusive lager to pair with Italian food seemed like a natural progression.
He added: “We were delighted to develop this beer in collaboration with Paulo and the team at Margot. We produce well-balanced beers, made using the finest ingredients, which pair perfectly with fine food. Margot’s lager beer has been designed to reflect the elegance and sophistication, so evident in all that is offered at this fantastic London restaurant”.
Co-founder of Margot, Paulo de Tarso, told db: “We were keen for this to be an experience – I want people to remember their time with us. When you receive a frosted glass, you remember it.”
“We are thrilled with the response so far. Normally we don’t put beer bottles on the table, but I’ve noticed that after serving our lager in this way, customers keep picking up the bottles and taking pictures of them”.
Wagamama and Meantime
In 2017, Asian restaurant chain Wagamama collaborated with London’s Meantime Brewery to release two beers designed to complement its food.
Meantime developed Kansho, a zingy ginger and lime pale, and Kikku, a classic pale ale with a spicy chilli twist.
Brew master Ciaran Giblin worked closely executive chef at Wagamama, Steve Mangleshot, to experiment with different flavours and work out which combination would work best with Asian inspired dishes.
General manager at Meantime, Laura Edwards, added: “The beers are listed on the menu next to dishes they pair perfectly with, and the response so far from beer drinkers and foodies alike has been very positive”.
Tom Sellers and Anspach & Hobday
Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story teamed up with London craft brewery Anspach & Hobday last year to create an ale infused with clementine preserves.
Called Story Saison, the beer blends of clementine preserves made at Sellers’ Michelin-starred restaurant in London Bridge with a farmhouse-style ale brewed by Anspach & Hobday in Bermondsey.
According to brewery co-founder Paul Anspach, the 5.5% ABV brew is “complex, refreshing and balanced” with “a smooth, dry finish”.
“The base beer expresses aromas of spice and citrus fruit driven in a large part by the yeast, and the addition of clementine really elevates these, adding a huge amount of juiciness to the palate,” Anspach said.
Sellers added: “I know where every ingredient in my kitchen comes from, because I need to know that everything I use is the best it can be. I wanted to work with a local brewer to make a beer with Story for that reason”.
Anspach & Hobday have previously collaborated with Sellers on a smoked brown ale that was paired with the Story’s signature beef dripping candle.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Skinner’s
Chef, writer and founder of River Cottage Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall collaborated with Cornwall-based Skinner’s Brewery to produce an English Pale Ale made from all-English ingredients.
Launched in 2014, the beer was brewed using hops grown in Hereford and malted barley from Restronguet Barton Farm in Cornwall.
Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “By sourcing the best English hops – including the exceptional Cascade, recently produced for the first time by UK growers – and combining them with the finest Cornish malted barley, we’ve made a beer that’s high in complex aromatics, with floral, cedar and citrus notes, and a long bitter-sweet finish”.
Steve Skinner, who founded Skinner’s in 1997, said: “Our collaboration with River Cottage has encouraged us to rediscover the finest ingredients grown in our back garden.
“We are really proud to have created a perfectly balanced beer that goes down brilliantly with a well-sourced meal, or on its own as a refreshing pint.
“It’s a real honour to work with a company as loved and well-known as River Cottage and I am delighted to raise my (pint) glass as a nod to our English brewing heritage and a brilliant new business partnership”.
The beer is still available on the River Cottage and Skinner’s Brewery websites.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and La Sirène
While brewed in Australia, Dinner by Heston’s beer was inspired by the restaurant’s British heritage.
This month, head chef Evan Moore and sous chef Max Gauthier-Beaudoin of Dinner by Heston in Melbourne teamed up with local brewery La Sirène to release a farmhouse style ale brewed with wild yeast to be exclusively served in the restaurant.
The pair both began brewing on days off during their time working at Heston’s London site.
Now living and working in Australia, they decided to take it up a notch, partnering with Melbourne brewery La Sirène to produce Two Penny Farmhouse Ale exclusive to the bar at Dinner.
Based on traditional farmhouse ales made for farm workers in Belgium and later England, Two Penny Farmhouse Ale is bottle-fermented and incorporates hops from New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
This, according to Dinner by Heston, “results in a balanced blend of spice, floral and citrus, notably grapefruit aromatics as well as honey and thyme”.
Rolled oats are also added to provide a nuttiness as well as Australian pale ale malt to add “a bright lift”
According to the restaurant, the ale matches particularly well with red meat dishes such as the Rice and Flesh entrée on the Dinner menu.
Gordon Ramsay and Stone Brewing
TV chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay unveiled his first Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Las Vegas earlier this year. On the over 30-bottle strong beer list is an exclusive house beer from California’s Stone Brewing: Hell’s Kitchen Special Brew IPA.
According to Eater Las Vegas, the brewer has previously made beers for Gordon Ramsay Burger and the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.
Commenting on the launch of the restaurant, Gary Selesner, regional president of Caesars Palace, said: “With Gordon and his team, we created a unique dining experience based on one of the most popular shows on television. I’m very proud of what we have achieved. The room has been transformed and feels just like the set of Hell’s Kitchen, and the food and service is worthy of the Gordon Ramsay.
“The response from guests so far has been very gratifying. They are delighted with the menu and love the concept. It looks like we have another big hit on our hands. I can’t wait for everyone to try it”.
This is not the first time that Ramsay has waded into the world of beer. Last year, he defended his decision to endorse South Korean lager brand Cass, which has been branded “the worst beer in the world”.
Ramsay said he was “far from embarrassed” adding: “[Cass is] something I drank before the call [for the endorsement] came in. When I have Korean food, I don’t look for a wine list with the most expensive beer to go with it. I want a beer that‘s easy, fresh, and something I can drink without having to show off. I think that was the important thing.”
“Europeans have a very delicate palate. They’re not used to that level of spiciness, so they wouldn‘t understand the importance of cleansing and properly washing food down,” he said.