Saturday, November 27, 2010

Maybe it's Star-Ledger + beer = boring

what? Beer and food pairings are boring.

Don't take our word for it, just follow the link and the comments.

Guess the folks at Boston Beer who have championed enjoying food with beer have been wrong all along. Food and beer pairings are boring. Not to mention Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery, who seems to have wasted a lot of time on The Brewmaster's Table. Alas.

Guess the folks at the Brewers Association have been on a misguided mission for the past three years with SAVOR because food and beer pairings are boring. Ditto for Sigh.

Guess White Dog Foundation and in Philadelphia and Victory Brewing in Downington, Pa., have been barking up the wrong tree with the Brewer's Plate for six years, uniting great regional cuisine with beers made within a 150-mile radius. Beer and food pairings are boring. Zounds! Flying Fish, River Horse, Triumph, Climax, Boaks and Iron Hill must have all got suckered on that one.

Speaking of Iron Hill they must have been led astray, coaching their staff to know about food and beer, and how they complement each other. Damn it all! Food and beer pairings are boring!

OK, enough sarcasm.

Craft beer enthusiasts, and not just the geeks, know food and beer go better together than wine and food, and let's hand it to wine, because it does an admirable job with food. It's just that beer, in its creation, welcomes more ingredients – hops for starters – into the fold than wine, resulting in a more expansive gamut of flavors that fit with more kinds of cuisine than its fermented cousin wine.

Beer and food pairings boring? Hardly. It's very much where beer, namely craft beer, belongs, especially right now, amid an era of wonderful beer choices. Otherwise, we might as well settle for Pringles and a Coors, or Bud and Doritos, instead of crab bisque made with a bourbon reduction complemented by a pint of Climax ESB; pork loin with a dunkel from Triumph; jambalaya with Flying Fish Farmhouse ale.

Yes, Virginia, better beer deserves better food.

Perhaps what the Star-Ledger thinks is, writing about beer and food together is boring, overdone. As if taking the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas and playing beer advent calendar is a fresh peach at the top of the tree, not easy, low-hanging fruit.

But that's not an entirely fair comment, because suggesting beers for the yule season has been done well many times in the past. Just like suggesting great beer for great food.

The fact is, beer and food always fit comfortably side by side, can seamlessly exist in the same breath. Because they can go in the same mouthful.

Sláinte. And bon appétit.


Kurt Epps said...


JessKidden said...

I don't quite get it. Is Genovese also "Munchdriver"? Why would a reporter use a different screen name in the "comments" section of his own article?

Is that really a Star-Ledger "print" article or simply an online "blog"? It does (as someone else mentioned in the "comments") seem odd to discuss a beer like Bell's Oberon, that is not available in New Jersey AND is their summer seasonal.

Jeff Linkous said...

Yeah, the byline and screen name are one in the same. I think the column is featured weekly in the print edition, but I haven't picked up one those in a while.

The Star-Ledger used to rain reporters on Trenton politics like confetti at a parade, and thumped its chest like a coverage know-it-all from news to sports to features (it even sent staff to the Beijing Olympics in '08, while it was bleeding cash and pleading with staff to take buyouts to trim payroll). So the farce to me, with their jumping on the craft beer band wagon, is how the paper suddenly decided to go all in on the topic (they sponsored beer festivals at Monmouth Park this past summer; beforehand, they had occasional beer articles). It strikes me as an idea that bubbled up from an advertising department meeting, then got handed off to the newsroom.

That's not an crazy business idea by any stretch. But the paper's boast of being YOUR source on the subject is a bit laughable when it looks like the S-L is rushing to catch up.

Maybe slamming the paper for pooh-poohing food and beer pairings was a little harsh, but the coverage reeks of dumbing down, like that newspaper axiom of writing so your grandmother can understand it. Food has been central to the beer scene for a while now (an artisanal cheesemaker used a Flying Fish beer to wash their rinds, and FF brewed with oysters last year).

Beer drinkers are a range of types, for certain, but it's not just the hardcore craft beer enthusiasts, the geeks, who are into knowing about hops, grain flavors and how the yeast affects the overall flavor – all that "gobbledygook." They look for fresh-hopped beers knowing what wet hops are; they know their glassware types and what kind of beer belongs in which shape.

Craft brewers themselves pursue this flow of information, initiating discussion about their beers, going deeper than "this is a stout, this is a double IPA, this is a Belgian quad ..."

In one sense, it's part of their marketing, but in a greater sense it's pride: they like creating; they like what they're doing and want to share the appreciation for better beers and exciting flavors.

Snobbery it ain't. It's just that the landscape has changed.