If you’re a regular reader of the KegWorks blog (AKA: a super-cool genius) you probably remember that Liz, our resident Queen of Social Media, has a big ‘ol crush on the brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, Garrett Oliver.
And why wouldn’t she? Oliver is a true rockstar of the craft beer world who works tirelessly to spread the sudsy gospel that we all hold so dear. In his mind, beer has no business being relegated to "little brother" status behind wine and spirits. A dining experience can, and should, be made richer and fuller by a thoughtful, well-curated beer list that is nimble enough to pair with anything on the menu.
Recently, writing for Food & Wine magazine online, Oliver laid out what he perceives to be the top "Crimes Against Beer" being perpetrated at eateries across the land. His list:
"AN ALMOST COMPLETE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
Despite what’s happening at the high end of restaurants and bars, beer is the only food or drink where if you go to a restaurant, the average customer knows more about the beer than the house, even if they have only 10 beers on the list. That’s a disaster. Can you imagine if you walked into a steak house and 70 percent of the customers knew more about steak than anybody who worked there? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a restaurant and asked what beers they have, and have them say "Oh, we have every kind." My friends turn around and look at me, but I’m just like, I’m not going there. Cooking schools are only just starting to learn that they can’t send people out into the world with only three hours of beer training after one month on wine. Most people go into the restaurant business completely unprepared for the actual craft-beer-drinking customer.
Many times you’ll go into a restaurant and they’ll have an array of nice glasses designed to taste wines. But brewers are to blame for this as well: The beer either has only a pint glass, or something like a jelly jar, a little fruit juice glass that a hotel might use to serve orange juice.
A lot of restaurant dishwashers don’t leave the glassware in a state that we refer to as "beer clean." Beer clean is cleaner than visually clean, and it’s important because even tiny traces of residual detergents will break down the foam. Foam isn’t just a big part of the visual presentation, it gives you a different expression of texture and flavor.
Neither real beer nor real wine should ever be served ice-cold. Something that’s been buried under ice for the last half hour at 33 or 34 degrees will taste of little more than bitterness and carbonation. At 45 degrees to 50 degrees, that range is more likely to show most good beers in a much better light. The restaurant Birch and Barley in DC has two or three different fridges for beers at different temperatures. They even have a range of temperatures for their taps.
LACK OF PRESS
Present company excepted, people in the media barely write about it. The public is yearning for more knowledge about beer, and nobody’s giving it to them. Even though craft beer is more popular than wine in the US, every major newspaper has a wine column, and almost nobody has a beer column. What’s wrong with this picture?"
Well put, Mr. Oliver. Well put indeed.
With any luck, some enterprising restaurateurs will take note of your words and push the craft beer revolution that much further into our mainstream dining culture. Either way, beer is here to stay and until it loses its second-class citizen status, it is our responsibility to defend it. We are the loud, proud craft crusaders and our voices must rise as one to demand a cease-fire in these ongoing crimes against our beloved brew. Beer drinkers, unite! And get ready to welcome a tastier tomorrow!