New Beer Rule #10: Beer is food

Need I add more?

OK. Beer is food for thought. Beer is food for the soul.

But I’d rather keep NEW BEER RULE #10 that simple: Beer is food.

(Full disclosure: The idea for this rule was inspired by Alan McLeod’s question — “Why Does That Word ‘Pairing’ Make My Temples Ache?” — in response to Mark Dredge writing about the oft-mentioned topic of food and beer pairings. Excellent reading.)


8 thoughts on “New Beer Rule #10: Beer is food”

  1. I don’t know if I agree. My thought is that food is a solid and beverage is a liquid. Technically it all falls under the food science umbrella, but beverages need some sort of differentiation.

    If beer is food, then does it not become a side dish?

  2. It could be a side dish, it could be the main dish, it could be the only dish.

    My thought is that instead of stressing about pairing – what wine goes with asparagus? – you think about beer as one more component.

  3. Isn’t the pairing really just accenting the beer into the components of the dish? I always thought of pairing as a way of highlighting the way a beer can integrate well with food.

    In many ways you could do the same thing with say, an amazing new potato dish. Your meal of an amber ale and cheeseburger pairs perfectly with this new potato dish.

    The primary reason for the distinction between beverage and food in a restaurant is that the chef hasn’t picked out what pairs between the two, you have. The questions of what beer pairs with what on the menu is merely adding a suggestion to the consumer of what the house suggests so that the next time you’re on your own in that situation you can go with a trustworthy choice instead of a blind one.

    Added into that is what I am trying to avoid calling the rinsing factor. Words like crisp, refreshing, clean, and drinkability are all used with beer (and occasionally wine). Ultimately when you have that perfect shepard’s pie, you still want something to drink with it.

    I think what I’m getting at, is that as craft brewers we’re aiming to get people on our side and drinking our beer. We do think that it is relatively unique to what has been going on in the broad US beer market over the last 50 years and we’re looking to convert some people over to our side. We do that by having beer pairing dinners, to show that our beers offer something extra to the table from what you may be used to. I completely understand that someone like Alan might see specific beer pairings as obvious, but he’s been drinking good beer for a lot longer than a greater percentage of the market we’re looking for. In accenting the beer with the meal, we’re attempting to convert the people who aren’t familiar with all of our beers. We’re looking for the skeptical Coors Light drinkers and the people like my dad who only drink wine. We’re looking for them because we want to show them that we’re putting together some interesting flavors that go well with their day to day meal that they might not be familiar with or even keen to try right off. And we do it with food because it’s two things that go together very nicely.

    At some level if they’re all components, then you can find some components that will always go together with other components. If you can’t pair beer with wine, or even beer with Coors light, doesn’t that make beverages a separate category to be paired with food?

    (I’ve ranted, I’m sorry)

  4. Civil ranting is fine. That’s why there’s a box for comments.

    Can I say beer is food, but may double as a beverage?

    Perhaps I should amend the rule a bit, although I do like simplicity.

    Your dad only drinks wine?

  5. I like the rule. Soup is food. It is not a beverage. Is beer not food because you don’t use a spoon?

    My real problem with pairing is the misplaced marketing effort that is missing people who are the skeptical Coors Light drinkers. Better to present great beers with a ballgame on a beautiful summer evening to make the point. Better to give out samples in the store and have someone right there to engage in conversation. I saw that one at a Syracuse Beer Week event and it worked. Waiting on the ballgame thing.

  6. Piggybacking off Alan’s point, debating whether beer is food or a beverage is a matter of semantics. It’s like arguing whether ice should still be considered water. It’s the same thing, just in a different form.

    The more important point that this rule brings to light is that beer is PERISHABLE, and should be treated with the same care that perishable food gets. Not necessarily perishable in the same way as milk, in that it won’t spoil and make you sick, but beer needs to be treated well in order to maintain its quality. A lot can happen from the brewery to your glass that can take a perfectly fine and delicious product and make it nasty.

  7. Alan, are you suggesting beer is soup? 😉 We are working on tasting people on beer in the supermarkets in Washington. You’d be surprised the number of skeptical people there are at beer dinners that are dragged in by their friends and come out with a different opinion. (Soup has a lower percent liquid by volume than beer or wine making it not a beverage)

    Stan, my great failing is that I haven’t managed to convert my own father over to beer. He claims it’s too bitter, the only beer I can get him to drink is my Nitro Cream Ale. He’ll occasionally drink one after working in the yard, but he complains it puts him to sleep right afterward. I was shocked when he told me he couldn’t believe that beer outsold wine in volume. They live in Santa Barbara and have had access to pretty good wine for the past 40 years. Oddly enough my mom has shown an interest in stouts and porters.

    I do like the simplicity of the rule, but am not sold on it yet.

Comments are closed.