For hundreds of years, wine alone has received the invitation to accompany the finest cuisines of the world. While wine no doubts pairs well with the most regarded cookery, its shortcomings have been overlooked; and its dominance unchallenged due to historical and cultural forces beyond the basic—and most pertinent—issue of what tastes good with what.
As certain nations gained international regard, so did their gastronomy. When the Normans invaded England they brought their French menus and wine lists with them; until very recently, the menus of the English Royal Family were only to be read written in French. Over time, French—and Italian—food became the symbol of haute cuisine and since the French and Italians make some of the finest wines in the world, it follows that wine became the haute beverage.
Beer, on the other hand, is made from grains that are far less perishable than grapes; barley, specifically, can be grown for much of the year, then stored or transported to ensure that beer can be brewed year round and in every corner of the globe. So beer has had the image of being a common drink for common people, and has long been associated with common food. Often it was drank with pub food simply because the pub was the where one drank beer. This notion has trickled down to today, where beer is associated with bar food: anything fried, spicy, and cheap is good with beer. And since beer has for years been known as something yellow, tasteless and fizzy, it makes some sense that it has largely been used to wash down nachos and to fan the flames of buffalo wings.
Recently, the dominance of French and Italian cuisine has begun to subside as the global marketplace has championed the flavors of places where grapes hardly grow. Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Cajun, American barbecue and Indian gastronomy have all been elevated to the level of haute cuisine; and the flavors offered by such cooking—spicy, herbal, sweet, even bitter—can cause wine some problems in pairing. Beer, on the other hand, has always been paired with these cuisines, and for good reason. In fact, beer’s vast array of flavors, crisp, hoppy, malty, roasty, smoky, fruity, spicy, and tart, make it a fine pairing with most dishes, in any cuisine.
And Executive Chef Kyle Bailey continues to bear this thinking out in each and every one of our tastings. His food is focused, inventive, and unafraid of the limits presented by wine. Ancient Indian spices may ring a subtle note, and find a delectable partner in a spicy Belgian Tripel, while pickled Eggplant finds a willing match in a Flanders Oud Bruin.
These are exciting times in Chef’s kitchen. We cannot wait to invite you to taste with us.
Greg Engert, Beer Director