Sor­cha Hamil­ton on beer in restau­rants

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE -

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? @ ITbeerista beerista@ irish­times. com

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