In the last five years, craft beer has made it onto the menu. Its amazing capacity to pair with all kinds of foods has made beer-and-food tasting events multiply exponentially—just look at the jumbo monthly lists on beerfestivals.org.
Beer may actually be more food-friendly than wine is. Winemakers, after all, have one ingredient to play with: grapes. Two, if you count wood barrel aging. Beermakers, however, can experiment with the sweetness of barley, the bitterness of hops, the “breadiness” of yeast, as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables.
A wise man once said there are two kinds of beer: the good stuff and the other kind. There’s also the cheap and the not-so-cheap. More often than not, craft beer falls into the good and not-so-cheap categories. But, the beauty is that in the world of beer, unlike many other industries and markets, you usually get what you pay for.
The Brewers Association stipulates that the American craft brewery must be small, independent, and traditional in order to be called “craft.” To be small, they must produce 6 million barrels of beer annually or less. Independent means that no more than 25% of the craft brewery can be owned by an industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Lastly, traditional means the brewer has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers that use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
Some examples of award-winning craft beer are Higher Standard Imperial IPA from The Peekskill Brewery, Peekskill, NY, and Chocolate Porter from Horseheads Brewing, Horseheads, NY.
According to the Brewer’s Association, a craft beer customer’s bill is an average of $16 higher than someone’s who slugs a Coors Light. Let’s do a little math. If you had 25 tables a night enjoying craft beer, and their bills were each $16 more, that’s $400 more for the night. Do that for 6 days (You need a day off, right?) and that’s an additional $2,400 a week. Even if you closed your doors for 2 weeks a year, you would still see an increase in sales of $120,000! Which would mean your servers would make an additional $24,000 in tips. Craft beer just became your new best friend.
Serving Tip: If you’re pairing a whole meal with different beers, course by course, start with a light beer and work your way toward darker beers so as to not overwhelm the palate.