When it comes to food, wine, and spirits, most of the city’s restaurants have things down.
Look to any ranking of the city’s best restaurants and you’d be hard-pressed to find any among them who haven’t taken some time to cultivate a thought-out list of wines. Since arguably the dawn of going-to-another-place-to-eat-things-made-by-other-people, a separate menu or even a fucking table topper with a list of available vintages has been a practically mandatory requirement.
And it has it been likewise well established that the closer and fresher the ingredients restaurants use to cook their meals, the better said meals will be. Indeed, if you’re in a restaurant that isn’t touting locally-sourced ingredients somewhere on their menu, I’d venture that you’re not in a very good restaurant.
So too are virtually all bars and restaurants embracing “cocktail culture.” You can hardly swing a Hawthorne strainer in this town without hitting a muddling bartender who will insist you call them a mixologist while they whip up their house-made honey kombucha with shiso and Horchata.
So why the hell is virtually no one in the city giving beer the same level of respect we snotty Torontonians demand of virtually every other substance we cram in our suck holes?
Well, throughout the next month, I’m fixing to find out.
Over the next (roughly) 30 days, I’ll be dedicating Ben’s Beer Blog to exploring the relationship between food and beer; fine dining and well-crafted brews; eatin’ and drinkin’. Frankly, it’s weird that these two things are so often overlooked and, I think, important to take note of some of the bigger hurdles people who like quality beer and quality food are facing—whether they know it or not.
One of the main culprits, in my opinion, is (surprise!) big brewers. In an industry where profit margins are often razor thin, the prospect of discounted or even free draught beer can be highly enticing to a new business owner. Later in the month I’ll explore the idea that the expectation of cheap beer that has been established by the macrobrewers is largely behind what’s ruining the beer-food experience in our city’s dining establishments.
Of course, there’s an argument to be made that sound planning means beer doesn’t have to be an afterthought and incorporating your draught and bottle selection into your menu planning makes sound financial and culinary sense. For perspective on how to make it work, I’ll also be talking to one of the city’s few restaurateurs who seem to understand the possibilities pairing fine-dining and well-crafted beer.
I’ll also talk with experts in order to look at the finer points of food and beer pairing and explore extremely simple ideas for incorporating beer into your own cooking.
Of course, sometimes a beer is phenomenal simple by virtue of the circumstances in which it is enjoyed, so throughout the month, I’ll also be exploring the emotional connection with a great beer in my ongoing “Best beer I’ve ever had” series by featuring restaurateurs and chefs and their stories.
Most of these proposed posts aren’t even a scribbled note in my Moleskine yet at this point, so I’m not entirely sure where this adventure will lead. At the very least, I hope my exercise in looking at dining and beer will start a conversation I find isn’t currently happening as much as it could be and, maybe, by month’s end, we’ll have brought so much attention to the issue that you’ll never be forced to pair your Nova Scotia swordfish, jicama salsa, and chanterelle mushrooms with a fucking Stella Artois ever again.
Got post ideas, input, or a story to tell about beer and food? Send me an email at btjohnson81(at)gmail(dot)com.