10 Aug 2013

Weekend musings


This bit by Boak & Bailey reminded me of something that's been in my mind for awhile.

For a long time I've lamented how little attention and respect beer gets from most food writers, restaurant critics, etc.; like, for instance, that review of a restaurant specialised in Czech food made with locally sourced ingredients that praised the extensive wine list, but made no mention about the beer on tap, or an Italian restaurant being commended on the authenticity of the (imported mostly) ingredients they use, while ignoring the fact their only choice of beer is a pseudo-imported brand, and many others. But lately I've been asking myself how bad a thing that is, and if we should actually care about it.

Mind you, this is not reverse snobbery. I've got no issue with beer being spoken seriously about, neither I'm against foodies suddenly embracing beer, or restaurants having beer sommeliers, or people people on the other side of the counter trying to reach new consumers. It is the way it's often done; it sometimes looks a bit artificial, forced. It's how I feel whenever I see a well composed photo of a beer in a wine, or any other long-stemmed glass. It's like watching at an attractive woman in an evening gown and hiking shoes sitting in a tea-room drinking whisky. There's nothing really wrong with that all in itself, but it looks quite out of place, or a silly, and unnecessary call for attention.

Does beer really need to be coated with a layer of sophistication and made to speak with a posh accent to earn any respect? Why? Only to be accepted by people who will probably take it as another passing fad? Could it be that the problem is actually ours, that we need beer to be approved by that elite so we can feel better about our tastes?

I don't know about you, but I'm comfortable with beer as something that doesn't need to be swirled, sipped and sniffed in order to be appreciated. I'm comfortable with beer drinking not as an end in itself, but as a part of something larger and, yes, more enjoyable. I'm comfortable beer culture being more at home at pubs, bars and than at tastings and pairings. I'm comfortable with beer as something that makes you burp, fart and piss and get pissed, instead of something to be contemplated in reverence. I'm comfortable with beer being only beer.

Na Zdraví!

3 comments:

  1. I agree beer should not be "swirled, sipped and sniffed in order to be appreciated" but I know here in the States, restaurant reviewers make mention of beer, when it is in an appropriate restaurant/context. For example, one that has taken time and effort to have an interesting selection of beer, which is not usually the case with many Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese (except this place!http://mekongisforbeerlovers.com/),Mexican, or French (sometimes)But almost any new bar/grill/restaurant here in RVA is putting more emphasis on locally/regionally produced beer.

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    1. But the question is, does that restaurant really need to have "interesting" (for lack of a better word) beers? Is it any worse because of that? You don't go to a Vietnamese restaurant because of the beer, you go because of the very specific style of food. This doesn't mean that they should not have "interesting" beers, because they might (and I stress might) make a difference in getting new people through the door. But at the end of the day, at those restaurants, it's all about the food.

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    2. In the end, I think it depends on what the "vision" of the eating establishment is. Food is primary; unless you are opening some giant 50 tap "beer palace" of course. True; interesting beers might get a few extra folks in the door; in order to differentiate your place

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