By Nick Stafford, commercial director, Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA)

British craft-brewed beer has seen meteoric growth over the last few years, with more breweries per-head in the UK than anywhere else in the world and a greater variety of beers being brewed than ever before – it’s a fantastic time to be a lover of beer. What’s really exciting about craft beer though, and what has ultimately led to its growth in popularity, is its diversity of flavour. From lightly coloured, powerfully flavoured citrussy pale ales to tart, Belgian-inspired sour beers and rich, espresso-like Imperial Stouts – British beer has undergone something of a renaissance.

That broad spectrum of flavour also makes it fantastic for pairing with food, something restaurants up and down the UK are latching on to with gusto. Whilst wine will always have its place at dinner tables, beer offers another angle and, in many cases, is a far superior match, particularly when looking to pair particularly complex or punchy dishes. Still unsure about craft beer being paired with food? Try a sweet-sour cherry lambic with a chocolate brownie, a strong double IPA with a blue-cheese burger, or a smokey Porter with some barbecue brisket – I guarantee you’ll be a quick convert.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) are a not-for-profit who are working to bring together the UK’s fantastic restaurants with our membership of independent craft brewers. With over 850 brewery members across the UK, beer from local SIBA breweries is available to all UK restaurants, no matter the location.

Independent research recently showed that a third of people would visit restaurants more often if they served a range of British craft beers, something which restaurants of all types can take advantage of. If you only have the space for three beers on your menu then why not make them the absolute best they can be, rather than the same old tired international brands that your customers can get anywhere else.

Craft beer comes in a wide range of formats, from draught beer in both cask and keg format, to bottled and canned beers of varying sizes, so no matter how big or small your restaurant, there is no reason the beer menu can’t be as exciting as the food. Smaller 330ml canned craft beers are proving particularly popular as they are extremely easy to store, handle, chill and serve, with minimal beer knowledge needed. In fact the only staff training required is to remember to give customers a glass with their beer, to allow them to fully enjoy the aromas and flavours of the beer with their food.

If you’re interested in getting craft beer in your restaurant then it’s good news, as SIBA’s BeerFlex system, which puts independently brewed craft beer into some of the UK’s biggest pub chains, has now been adapted to work for restaurants and we’d love to speak to you. For more information contact SIBA on 01765 640441 or email