Let there be a world of knowledgeable consumers and bar proprietors in which we understand beer in its splendid and almighty versatility. A place where the consumer will know how to pair beer with food similar to the general knowledge of red wine with beef and a white with a fish. Renown beer writer Michael Jackson in his essential Beer Companion points to discerning wine folk who underestimate beer: “No one goes into a restaurant and requests ‘a plate of food, please’. People do not ask simply for ‘a glass of wine’, without specifying, at the very least, whether they fancy a red or white, dry or sweet, perhaps sparking or still”¹. And then, the same wine geeks order ‘a beer’. Michael is trying to rectify this ignorance in his most known work – introducing and showing that beer can be as elegant as wine or spirits. It can be as complex or as simple simple as you want it to be: a cold and quaffable lager on a hot summer’s day; a table beer to go with your everyday dinner; a celebratory sparkling ale in a flute glass; a nutty brown ale to match your barbecued meat; or a nightcap of a thick imperial stout to warm you up on a cold winter’s night.
Unfortunately, ignorance isn’t reserved only for the consumer side – many bar owners should broaden their knowledge. In a perfect world, all establishments that serve beer would correctly maintain the draft systems; all bartenders would care for a proper pour to a beer clean glass and a whiff of an off-flavor either from a draft or packaged beer will raise bartender’s eyebrow. Faulty equipment or simple draft system troubleshooting could be done without calling for help and restaurant menus will include many beer and food pairings which will make the customers return. Finally, for the consumer, a myriad of hop, malt, and other ingredient aromas and flavors would become more than just “hoppy” or “malty” and the terminology reserved for tasters and brewers would become common language. A regular customer would walk in and say without looking at the menu that he or she wants a chicken salad and a witbier, a cheeseburger with a pale ale or a chocolate mousse with that imperial stout. We at Beerjuku.com are adamant that this perfect word is not too far-fetched and we are here to educate – one little sip at a time.
- Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion – Stouts, Lagers, Wheat Beers, Fruit Beers, Ales, Porters – Second Revised (Elan Press, 1997), 6-7