Pairing Food and Craft Beer With Sambrook's

How to pair food and delicious craft beer at home with Sambrook’s Brewery

Planning to serve wine at your next dinner party? Well it’s time to try craft beer instead. This week TOAST gets Beer Sommelier Jamie Percival’s top tips on how to create a delicious beer and food pairing at home.

We’ve all heard of wine pairing suppers but as today's trendy tipple is of course craft beer, could we do the same but with the amber nectar instead of the customary grape-based plonk? Absolutely, according to Sambrook's Beer Sommelier Jamie Percival.

Beer pairing works fantastically well. It has a wide variety of ingredients and can vary from being sweet, bitter, sour and have edges of salty and umami, so there’s a great versatility when beer combines with food.” Jamie enthuses.

“It’s also very easy to serve a different beer with many different courses as the ABV is generally lower and the size of beer container is smaller. Of course, I appreciate both wine and beer at dinner, but I believe in picking the best beverage for the right dish!

When he isn’t busy sampling the hoppy stuff Jamie is also Senior Sales Executive at Sambrook’s successful brewery in Battersea, South West London, so it’s safe to say that he knows a thing or two about good beer. In order to qualify as a Beer Sommelier Jamie also had to learn how to match beer and food together in glorious, tasty harmony, so who could be better placed to give TOAST his top tips for hosting your own food and beer tasting like a pro at home? 

Sambrooks Collection



All are good for serving at home but by the bottle is usually most convenient. Keg and cask can be bought in 3, 8, 16, 32 or even 72 pint containers. Keg and Cask are the “freshest” beer available and should be drunk shortly after purchase. Bottles will last longer and can be drunk over several days, weeks, months or years in some cases!


Don’t be afraid of the colour of the beer, darker beers are often more complex and challenging but can be great for pairing with food.


Beer doesn’t like oxygen, drink it fresh once opened if possible. Hoppy beer is boldest and freshest early in its life, darker beers can mature and develop so can be worth holding on for a special occasion. 


Keg beer should be served between 1-8c and ale between 8-14c, but always read the label.  Bottles are usually conditioned to be served at fridge temperatures, but don’t be afraid to experiment – a nice ice cool IPA is perfect in the summer, but a Russian Imperial Stout with cheese is ideally served at room temperature!


Clean glassware is essential, you shouldn’t have bubbles sticking to the side of the glass once poured. All beers deserve different types of glassware but it’s too much to ask everyone to collect multiple glasses for different beers. Take a look at the variety of different glasses available for Belgian beers just to give you an idea of what a brewer can achieve when the beer is matched to the glassware.  For drinking at home, you can’t go wrong with a nice half pint stemmed, Cervoise style glass.



Palate cleansing is an important part of the evening. Golden and light amber coloured beers with good conditioning or carbonation work well as an aperitif served when your guests arrive, but look for styles such as Pale Ale, Bitter, and Lager to start the evening off.



Some of the best dishes that go well with beer are;

  • A roast dinner. You don’t want anything heavily carbonated as this cuts too much of the flavour. The browning of the malts create a caramelized flavour profile that bridges perfectly with the gravy and browned meat. A roast goes really well with a Premium Bitter such as Sambrook’s Junction Ale 4.5%

  • A fish pie. I love buttery, creamy sauces and I certainly do not want to “cut” those flavours out of the dish. Something with low carbonation will bridge with the sauce and not over power the fish. A Pale Ale in cask works best here, such as Sambrook’s Pumphouse Pale Ale.

  • Grilled Meat. Again the browning or Maillard reaction on the meat leaves a sweet taste, alongside a darker more intense umami and bitter toasted flavours. Get stuck into this with a porter, such as Sambrook’s Powerhouse Porter 4.9%

When you are thinking about pairing food and beer think about the intensity levels that need to matched, chose the level of carbonation you want, review the flavours and taste and how these combine. This is all food science really, but you must bear in mind the ingredients of the beer and dish and ask – will this work?


The longer you give the beer in your mouth the more flavours and tastes you will notice. Try sipping and holding the beer for 5 seconds or more in your mouth, you will notice more as it warms up and the enzymes in your mouth break down the liquid.


Again, think of intensity. I wouldn’t match a strong blue cheese with a pale ale for example, but when you pair this with Sambrook’s Imperial Stout at 10.4%...then the magic starts! Both the beer and cheese can be classed as very intense on their own, but these two bridge wonderfully to calm each other whilst offering a tasting delight. The imperial stout is also magical with mint choc chip ice-cream. A good dessert is supposed to be your treat at the end of the meal, a beer will not only serve well to work with the dessert but can also cleanse your palate as you finish your meal. Other suggestions to try include apple pie and porter or hefeweizen, sticky toffee pudding and Barley Wine, or carrot cake and IPA!



If you want to know more then visit your local brewery when it’s open and drink straight from the source - a brewery’s people are very proud of what they do, they can tell so many stories and information about what you’re drinking and why you do or do not like something. Being informed is a good thing, the more you know about what you’re drinking, the more you will enjoy it. Also some good books include Miracle Brew by Pete Brown, Taste What your Missing by Barb Stuckey, and Beer Pairing by Julia Herz and Gwen Conley.

 Sambrooks Wandle

To learn more about Sambrook’s Brewery and what being a Beer Sommelier actually involves then over to TheEdit now for our recent Spotlight interview with Jamie himself.