“I hate fancy beer“, writes 2-star Michelin chef David Chang in a recent article for the GQ Magazine and adds: “shitty beer […] pairs really well with food. All food. Think about how well champagne pairs with almost anything. Champagne is not a flavor bomb! It’s bubbly and has a little hint of acid and tannin and is cool and crisp and refreshing. Cheap beer is, no joke, the champagne of beers. And cheap beer and spicy food go together like nothing else.”
The brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, Garrett Oliver, quickly fired back and stated that he “hates crappy beer.” He also hit out against the poor awareness of beer in American restaurants in Food & Wine, saying “beer is the only food or drink where if you go to a restaurant, the average customer knows more about the beer than the house, even if they have only 10 beers on the list. That’s a disaster. Can you imagine if you walked into a steak house and 70 percent of the customers knew more about steak than anybody who worked there?”
Cheap beers pair well with all food? Really, Chang?
I was recently in Málaga, stopping by a craft beer shop for a quick taste of some “fancy” beers, before heading over to an upmarket and trendy new gastro bar in the city centre, where the need for a quality beverage became all too evident. They had none on the menu, and with the citrusy freshness and overall richness of a Dougall’s 942 fresh on the palate, it became quite clear that the one-size-fits-all-beer on offer didn’t bring out anything in the food, it was just incipient and dull,leaving much to be desired. My friend and I looked at each other in amazement, both realizing at the same time something was clearly missing: Why would not a trendy, ambitious new gastro bar, with an upshot young Michelin chef behind it, have something new and fresh and bold on the beer menu?
Here’s hoping quality beer within short will be on the menu, possibly the default choice on tap, in a wide range of restaurants and bars, especially the ones pretending they have something novel and fresh going on.