A restaurant opened less than a year ago with food matching at its core has picked up the Best Independent Craft Beer Restaurant at the Society of Independent Brewers’ annual Business & Industry Awards.
Booma, based in Brixton and part of the Village Inns Group, was applauded for its ‘commitment to making the pairing of craft beer with Indian food central to its menu in a simple yet engaging way’. With its ‘exciting range’ and ‘easy-to-follow suggestions’ – both menu and drinks list are coded with numbers with pairings given for both food and drink – the judges were unanimous, pronouncing Booma ‘a clear winner in an extremely strong category’.
With charcoal Tandoor ovens and a menu devised with the assistance of Michelin-starred ex-Tamarind chef, Gopal Krishan, the dishes are elegant yet complex in their spicing. ‘The food comes first,’ London Village Inns MD Martin Harley told Imbibe after the awards. He described how he and GM David Cisar, ex-Smiths of Smithfield, tasted hundreds of beers to find the best matches for their dishes. ‘We wanted to find the wow factor,’ said Harley, not just the OK ones. ‘You can have a great meal, but if you pair it well it is like going first class,’ said Cisar. ‘The chance to be adventurous, not just filling your tummies.’
Tapped Leeds won the Best Independent Pub/Bar, while The Salutation Inn in Ham, Gloucester picked up the rural title at the Society’s Beer X conference in Sheffield.
With its own brewkit installed by a former head brewer of Pilsner Urquell, dozens of beers on draught and around 200 bottled beers, Tapped Leeds is part of the Pivovar Group, founded by Jamie Hawskworth and Jon Holdsworth 10 years ago. Hawksworth, whose other pubs include the Euston Tap and Sheffield Tap, paid tribute to the ‘fantastic’ team in charge, with Spike Stinsom at the helm. ‘It’s the youngest team in the group,’ Hawksworth said, adding that their commitment and drive was inspiring for the company as well as customers.
London’s Fourpure won the coveted Brewery of the Year award, with its single-minded staff training scheme highlighted by the judges. Every staff member, whatever their role, goes through full sensory training, enabling them to understand not just beer flavours but also off-flavours.
Former Imbibe Educator of the Year, beer sommelier Jane Peyton, won the on-trade Best Independent Craft Beer Promotion, with Beer Day Britain, the national day she single-handedly put on the nation’s calendar. ‘It’s a recognition for all the pubs who celebrated Beer Day Britain and enthused their customers to come out and drink some amazing beer to celebrate their national drink,’ said Peyton.
There’s A Beer For That, the pan-industry campaign group, won the off-trade Craft Beer Promotion award.