Talking Craft Beer With Sambrook’s Brewery

TOAST talks to Sambrook's Brewery about the popularity of craft beer and how to pair it with food

Beer glorious beer! TOAST grabs a pint with Beer Sommelier Jamie Percival to discover more about Sambrook’s – one of London’s original craft breweries - plus his top tips on how to host a taste bud tickling food and beer pairing at home.

Like many others, I love beer. I mean, I really love it. I am lucky that my line of work does occasionally involve sampling the odd tasty tipple here and there (for research purposes, of course), but being a Beer Sommelier basically sounds like my dream job.

As the son of an actor/comedian I was brought up on the mentality of ‘you can accomplish anything!’ beams Jamie Percival, Senior Sales Executive at Sambrook’s Brewery in Battersea and qualified Beer Sommelier.

So in 2003, as the market evolved, my fascination with beer actually became my career choice...

Of course there is more to the job than just drinking deer (disappointingly) – in addition to his role at Sambrook’s Jamie had to undergo rigorous tuition at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling which, by the way, is the world's leading professional body for people in the business of making booze. In order to qualify as a Sommelier you need to have both an in depth knowledge of beer styles as well as matching beer and food together, in glorious, tasty harmony.

This takes plenty of practice, research and patience,” Jamie explains.

Beer is a wonderfully subjective drink, and understanding why is only part of the problem! It has a lot to do with food science, and human difference.

Sambrooks Brewery Process

Sambrooks Brewery Process 2

Sambrooks Brewery Inside

When Jamie isn’t busy sifting through the science of beer he can be found at Sambrook’s; a craft brewery in Battersea, South West London, who have been whipping up tasty ales since 2008 using traditional brewing techniques and the very finest English ingredients. It was founded by Duncan Sambrook; an enterprising chap who went from city accountant to brewer in just three months.

Back then, it was a very daring thing to start a new brewery. Some brewers in London existed, but with the Young’s Brewery closing in 2006 there seemed to be a desire from the community to have a local brewery” explains Jamie.  

Duncan wanted to work with his hands, and the rest is a familiar story of luck, skill and hard graft!”

Sambrooks Junction

Today Sambrook’s is one of London’s most successful breweries, specialising in cask beer production and a core product range which includes tasty bottles and party-perfect kegs. Their selection of carefully created craft beers, such as the Wandle (named after the tributary of the Thames that flows through South London) and the Junction (named after the brewery’s local train station, Clapham Junction), are available throughout the capital and in select pubs across the UK, as well as being available online at Ales by Mail, and from Sambrook’s very own tap room and bottle shop.

Sambrooks Brewery

Sambrooks Collection

But with so many craft breweries now in existence across the country – what is Sambrook’s secret to success?

Quality. Simply put. And a simple approach I think.” Jamie explains.

There is no great definition of “craft” that I can regularly repeat but if brewing is cooking, so to speak, you need to have well-trained, passionate and skilled people working with ingredients picked for being the best, to create the best. That, and a disciplined and determined approach to cleaning, everything! All the time!” he laughs

I am also very proud about how we look to our local heritage for brewing inspiration, more often than looking afar. Foreign flavours are fascinating and we always want to try them, but I love eating and drinking from the produce grown local. It suits us more, it’s what we have lived on for centuries!”

Once often considered a bit of an 'old man’s drink’ – British ale is back with a vengeance and craft beer is most definitely ‘cool’, thanks to likes of Sambrook’s and other trendy new hop-steppers (ahem) all brewing up a storm. The supermarkets were once filled with uninteresting, big name European lager brands, but now there is a plethora of craft beer to choose from as well as a host of online craft beer delivery services, all boasting exciting flavours, new styles, stimulating stories and some pretty snazzy labels to boot.

I think lots more people have found a way to beer - I wouldn’t want to say there is a change, perhaps just greater acceptance from all crowds.” Jamie explains.

Beer is subjective and it’s also great in some scenarios more than others - I drink Wandle to watch the rugby, and I drink Junction to play cards with my fiancé, Rachel. Before mankind understood what it was that made our beverage bubble and created alcohol, we called yeast “God is goode” because we believed it was a gift from God! There is a theory that beer is considered a ‘treat’ to the human brain.”

And what better way to celebrate this ‘treat’ than with a group of friends and a spot of music? Much like TOAST it seems that Sambrook’s like to entertain too, and so every year they put on a festival that not only hails the hoppy stuff, but also encourages local people to come together and catch up over a pint. This year’s Beer on the Common, as it is known, is on Saturday 9th September in Tooting.

Sambrooks Festival

It’s all about community – it brings people together to share in a day celebrating music, food, family, and beer of course!” explains Jamie.

I love the idea of a perfect bite to eat, listening to live music and a fresh pint in hand. It sounds silly but I like to think we are offering a great excuse to be social with your neighbours for a whole day. Beer has for centuries been the social lubrication of the many!”

Sambrooks Beer

Sambrooks Outdoor 

Speaking of social lubrication, we’ve all heard of wine pairing suppers, but as today's trendy tipple is of course craft beer, could we do the same with but with the amber nectar instead of the customary grape-based plonk?

Wine has evolved and most people you meet will know something about wine, or at least what they like and don’t like. The conversation about beer is still evolving, more people need to find out what they like, and beer pairing works fantastically well!” Jamie enthuses

Beer has a wide variety of ingredients and can vary from being sweet, bitter, sour and have edges of salty and umami, so there is a great versatility when you combine it with food.

So next time you’re entertaining why not ditch the wine and experiment with some tasty craft beer instead. As luck would have it, all round beer expert Jamie has kindly shared his top tips for doing just that with TOAST, and you can find them over on TheEdit now. Cheers! 

For more information and contact details for Sambrook’s then visit their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book, and for tickets for Beer on the Common visit www.eventbrite.co.uk.