Something that’s been on my mind a great deal of late, is where beer intersects with other cultures, particularly those also within food and beverage. You may commonly hear me bring up topics like natural wine, low-intervention cider, speciality coffee and more when talking about craft beer. And this is with good reason.
For me, the most exciting things happening within beer are often happening at the points where these industries converge. Take our Uppers & Downers festival, for example. When I see a coffee enthusiast’s eyes light up because they’ve just tried a 3% Kvass that expresses flavours in beer they previously thought mightn’t have been possible, that gets me excited about the potential that lies within beer’s future.
At the moment I am particularly interested in the point at which beer meets food and restaurant culture. This is partly due to my own increased interest in food and wine of late, and finding myself in a good restaurant more often than previously. Naturally, being a beer writer, while in these spaces my mind turns to beer when I occupy them. Why isn’t beer treated the same way on a wine list as the wine itself? How do we help this industry gain a greater understanding of how beer has evolved over the past decade and in turn, implement this evolution into this space? When it comes to talking about beer in restaurants, let’s just say there’s plenty to munch on.
And this all brings me to today’s guest—Chef Tim Anderson—proprietor of a Japanese-inspired restaurant in Brixton, South London called Nanban. Anderson originally hails from Wisconsin and lived in both California and Japan before eventually settling down here in the U.K. He was a originally a home cook, but in 2011 he won that years Masterchef—a prime time cookery competition and TV show—which propelled him into the limelight.
What’s particularly interesting about Anderson however, is that before he was a chef, he was and still is a passionate beer fan. Even while filming Masterchef he was making ends meet pulling pints in London craft beer spot, The Euston Tap. After winning he went on to brew collabs with Pressure Drop, The Wild Beer Co and BrewDog—he even designed a menu at one of the latters bars for a time, as we’ll learn in this episode.
This all came to a head when Anderson eventually opened a restaurant of his own, called Nanban, here in London. At Nanban, Anderson specializes in what he calls “Japanese Soul Food.” You can expect steaming bowls of ramen, crunchy karaage fried chicken and even a burger which, somehow, fuses the Japanese-influenced house style with his Wisconsinite roots. What’s not so normal for a British restaurant though, is the beer selection. Here, along with an impressive list of Sake and Shochu, beer takes center stage—and in doing so, successfully demonstrates how beer can comfortably take its place at the dinner table—where other establishments have either not made a similar effort, or are simply unaware of how food-friendly beer has grown to become.
A quick note about this episode. We recorded in between lunch and dinner service at Nanban itself, so you can expect a little background noise. I’m also joined by GBH’s Claire Bullen—who in addition to being one of the authors of our NAGBW award-winning food column, Provisions, is also a prolific cook herself, and has her first cookbook launching next spring. Keep a look out for that.