Top Menu

When beer is good business

With the help of Boston Beer founder Jim Koch, BusinessWeek serves up a four-course (five if you count the Samuel Adams Utopias served at the end as a cordial).

The story concludes: “Indeed, it was a meal that could convert even the most ardent of oenophiles.”

The article appears at the same time as this announcement:

Robert M. Parker, Jr., world-renowned wine critic and publisher of The Wine Advocate, has signed on as a weekly columnist for BusinessWeek, Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler announced today. Written for BusinessWeek’s discerning [italics added by your editor ;>) ] readers, “Wines of the Week” will run in the Executive Life section of the magazine and will deliver Mr. Parker’s recommendations and descriptive tasting notes along with ratings and pricing information.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to share my passion for the world’s finest wines and wine bargains with the readers of BusinessWeek,” said Mr. Parker. “I have always believed no great business can be conducted without eventually serving the proper wine.”

Looks like BusinessWeek needed to invite Mr. Parker to their little beer dinner.

When a ‘hot’ chef grabs a beer

Food & Wine magazine gives a nice nod to beer in its current issue (the story even gets promoted on the cover): Great Beer From Around the World Meets its Food Match.

The article is pegged to the fact that one of the country’s “genius” chefs – Paul Kahan – plans to open a beer-friendly “gastropub” in Chicago, and tells you something you probably already know:

The new restaurant exemplifies one of the less discussed (but no less excellent) developments in American gastronomy: Beer, at least good beer, is finally getting its due. Craft beer is now the fastest-growing part of the alcohol industry in the United States, outpacing sales of wine and hard liquor. . . .

Restaurants that offer good food, great beer and modest environs have become another conspicuous trend -vno secret to anyone who’s tried to get a table on a Saturday night at New York City’s top gastropub, the Spotted Pig. In fact, sophisticated diners across the country are choosing to eat in more casual settings.

OK, you might not have known about the Spotted Pig, but the point is that beer often makes a better match for food than wine, and that often diners prefer a casual setting.

Of course, it is encouraging when the chef doesn’t just have his eyes on the latest trend, but truly likes beer. So what beer is Kahan drinking in the story? Pere Jacques from Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co.

Everything is readable online, including recipes, such as one for Beer-Braised Chicken Stew with Fava Beans and Peas.

Promoting beer knowledge vs. snobbery

Now the New York Times has written about the city’s first beer sommelier, a already discussed here a couple of months ago.

This will lead to a whole ‘nother round of posts in various blogs, and probably touch upon some more interesting ideas (including still more discussion if sommelier is a wine specific word). I promise not to beat you over the head with too many pointers, but here is an interesting thought from Roger Baylor:

This is the part that I’m having a problem embracing:

“We don’t aim towards pub people,” he said. “We’re about the beer geeks, people who want to try a new experience.”

Whether or not there is a word that accurately describes the function of ordering and recommending beer — a beer sommelier — how can it be so blithely divorced from the consciousness of pub people?”

In my experience, that’s where the “geeks” came from in the first place.

Beer knowledge is important, and to disseminate it through the experience and wisdom of a “beer sommelier” is something worthy of praise, but to imbue it with pretentiousness is both unnecessary and potentially self-defeating.

It’s hard enough going out there every day and having to un-do the incessant dumbing down of beer perpetuated by a half-century of megabrewing theory and practice without mimicking the excesses of wine snobbery.

Feel free to discuss.

A ‘complex’ beer issue

We love lambic in our house, yet I suspect I could spend the better part of the day asking others who live in our village about it before I found somebody who knew lambic meant beer.

But, goodness, all the attention it is getting these days could make you think it might be the Next Big Thing. We’re all in trouble if it is because we’re gonna run out of lambic real fast. For for instance, Cantillon – a subject in many of the discussions linked below – brews all of 800 barrels a year, about the same amount as the modest-sized brewpub up the hill from our house.

Following an article in the New York Times and a couple of blog posts by Eric Asimov you’ve got this:

A Lambic Primer at from Daniel Shelton of Shelton Brothers.

Followed by spirited discussions at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. (Thanks to Jonathan Surratt for the links.)

These discussions wander off in esoteric directions and raise as many questions as they answer, but it’s ahrd to quit reading.

I’m drawn to two subjects. First, the role of tradition and if tradition allows room for innovation. Without innovation there would be no Double IPAs, so I’m voting for innovation and figuring there should be some wiggle room when talking about tradition.

Second, the sweetness versus complexity argument. Gee, does that sentence equate sweet and simple? No apologies.

I’m reminded a late night discussion a year or so ago with Yvan De Baets, a Belgian brewer in waiting who wrote the history of saison in Farmhouse Ales.

“One of the main goals of Belgian brewers should be to fight against the Coca-Cola flavors and those kind of gadget tastes,” he said. “We should be about cultural tastes, not (sweet) animal tastes.”

Amen (although I’d like to ask brewers of all nations to act as responsibly).

Machine vs. wine tasters

What happens when university students use a machine to compete against a panel of wine experts in predicting the price level, region and quality for a number of wines?

Chemie.DE News-Center reports they came quite close to the experts’ judgment, especially when predicting region and quality level for wine at lower prices. Both the panel and the wine analysers had problems when predicting the price of the more expensive wines, but the expert’s ability to judge the finer points of the wines allowed them to get closer to the actual price.

However, the students and their machine easily won when it came to delivering speedy results.

I’m not sure that a beer tasting contraption could do as well.

Powered by WordPress