Why don’t restaurants have decent beer menus?
While many places have impressive wine lists or cocktails and locally sourced produce, beer often seems like an afterthought
Beer works really well with food and has the added bonus of being a palette cleanser
Lots of people want wine with food – but for those of us who prefer a beer with a curry or a steak, the offerings are generally a bit disappointing in restaurants.
While wine lists will often be expansive in fancier restaurants, even in relaxed or smaller places you’ll get at least four or five wines on the menu, and the waiting staff will usually be able to tell you a bit about them.
Not so with beer.
Most of the time you’ll get generic lagers, usually bottles of Moretti or Peroni (owned by Heineken and Asahi). Or if you’re lucky there might be one or two craft beers. But it’s unlikely the staff will know much about them – or have tried them.
I sometimes wonder if it’s part of an age-old snobbery about wine being associated with sophistication and good taste, and beer with lager louts.
Beer works really well with food, however, because it is so varied, can be very complex and has many styles. It also has the added bonus of being a palette cleanser because it is carbonated.
A Saison, for example, is the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of mussels – check out Mescan or Black Donkey – of if you’re feeling more adventurous, throw in a splash or so of a Geuze Lambic while cooking mussels and drink the rest while eating. A Belgian style red – like Chimay – goes well with steak and chips, while a burger or a curry is a classic combination with a session IPA (not too strong in flavour, but enough to hold its own).
It seems like a no-brainer for restaurants to make beer suggestions on their menu, or pair each dish with a different style. And while there’ll often be a line about the farm where they sourced their meat or vegetables – why not include a local brewery too?