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Doug Davis

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Beer! Its important and stuff

by Doug Davis » Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:36 pm

I know a lot of people in the food business frequent this site, so let this serve as a mass appeal to all of you owners or chef/owners or beverage managers.

Let me appeal to you on some ABC's of Beer.

#1. If you dont realize it by now (and you should) your beer selection is as important as your wine selection.

#2. If your entire selection consists of nothing but Budweiser or Coors products, your server isnt likely to convert me over to a mixed drink. I will instead just drink water with lemon and you just lost money. Even if all you have are Coors products at least try to get Bluemoon. For massed produced beer its better than most of the rest of the stuff.

#3. Despite everyone being all googoo over producing the most bitter undrinkable hops overloaded swill imaginable, think liquefied Vegemite, there are other branches to the craft beer family tree. Hefeweizens and Wit beers arent just for summer you know? If you are going to dabble into the craft beer arena have a selection of one or two from each branch of the beer family tree. A hefe and a wit. A porter. A stout or two. One or two nice ales. And yes even an IPA or eight.
But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's, is like selling twenty Cabernets, but no whites or anything else, and thinking you have a good wine list. You dont.

#4. Beer selection is so important these days, that should I walk in and be told you have nothing but bud or bud light or a wonderful choice of Michelob products, you could be serving golden mana from heaven able to enlarge my manhood and cure cancer while simultaneously solving the debt ceiling crisis, and I probably wont ever come back. Ever.

Sorry but after dining out this weekend I had to get this off my chest.
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Jeff Cavanaugh » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:50 am

Doug Davis wrote:#3. Despite everyone being all googoo over producing the most bitter undrinkable hops overloaded swill imaginable, think liquefied Vegemite, there are other branches to the craft beer family tree. Hefeweizens and Wit beers arent just for summer you know? If you are going to dabble into the craft beer arena have a selection of one or two from each branch of the beer family tree. A hefe and a wit. A porter. A stout or two. One or two nice ales. And yes even an IPA or eight.
But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's, is like selling twenty Cabernets, but no whites or anything else, and thinking you have a good wine list. You dont.


This.
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JustinHammond

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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by JustinHammond » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:03 pm

Doug Davis wrote:But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's


Who is doing this? I'd like to pay them a visit.
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Ryan Rogers

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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Ryan Rogers » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:32 pm

Hi Doug,

I understand your dilemma and frustration, but I think there are a few things to take into consideration. Mass market swill outsells craft beer by a disgusting margin; therefore it makes sense for restaurants to stock said swill products that move. It's a simple supply and demand issue, and holds true with a lot of craft beers as well, as a large number of "craft" beer drinkers are really just ipa drinkers.

Then of course we come to the issue of a restaurants ability/desire to stock multiple beers and increase their inventory when they're already sitting on X number bottles of wine and liquor. Well run restaurants, especially following this most recent depression, need to run as lean as possible. This means not stocking 8 different IPAs by the bottle (unless of course you're a place known for its beer selection), and the same holds true for liquor.
I hear this same comment multiple times a week, "Oh you don't have Brand X Vodka? We'll I'll take a water then."

The tides are slowly moving in the "right" (depending on who you ask) direction, craft beer wise, but this like any progress takes time. If you have any concern about your ability to order a quality beer at a certain restaurant give them a ring ahead of time, I'm sure they will at the least (depending on what time of day you call, preferably not during dinner/lunch rush) drop a couple names of beers in bottle or draft.

This all being said I wish a lot of restaurants (mine included) had a wine list similar to Eiderdown with wonderful Viogniers and Gewurztraminers, but sometimes the dollars don't make sense.
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Shane Campbell

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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Shane Campbell » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:34 pm

Doug Davis wrote:#1. If you dont realize it by now (and you should) your beer selection is as important as your wine selection.


There are some restaurants that don't have any intention of getting this I think. The new Bistro 1860 that several are on about apparently has given little thought to beer from the impression I got from Robin's review. It's okay, there are plenty that do. These may not provide fancy surroundings but the food and tap beer rarely disappoint me.

Blind Pig
Holy Grale
Silver Dollar
Eiderdown
Coals
Irish Rover
The Exchange
Feast
Bank Street
Fireside

Doug Davis wrote:#3. Despite everyone being all googoo over producing the most bitter undrinkable hops overloaded swill imaginable, think liquefied Vegemite, there are other branches to the craft beer family tree. Hefeweizens and Wit beers arent just for summer you know? If you are going to dabble into the craft beer arena have a selection of one or two from each branch of the beer family tree. A hefe and a wit. A porter. A stout or two. One or two nice ales. And yes even an IPA or eight.
But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's, is like selling twenty Cabernets, but no whites or anything else, and thinking you have a good wine list. You dont.


I think this occurs when the person ordering the beer isn't really a beer drinker or just order's what they like. My biggest complaint in this area is when too many of the offerings are high gravity.


Doug Davis wrote:#4. Beer selection is so important these days, that should I walk in and be told you have nothing but bud or bud light or a wonderful choice of Michelob products, you could be serving golden mana from heaven able to enlarge my manhood and cure cancer while simultaneously solving the debt ceiling crisis, and I probably wont ever come back. Ever.


If you should ever walk in and beer meeting any of the listed criteria are on offer please call me immediately. Cheers!
I'm a bitter drinker....I just prefer it that way
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Ken B » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:11 pm

Doug Davis wrote:But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's, is like selling twenty Cabernets, but no whites or anything else, and thinking you have a good wine list. You dont.


I know this thread is supposed to be about beer, but actually, the above quote points to a problem I find with most wine lists in this city. It's not about the grape, it's more about the region, or better yet, the style of the wine. Ryan's desire to see more Viognier or Gewurz on lists reflects his preference for aromatic whites, and their lack of representation (Ryan - no offense, as a Somm, I am not at all interested in pairing that sort of wine with any variety of smoked meats - so don't worry about putting them on your list!). In the same way that Doug describes sizing up beer selections based on his recent experience, I can count on one hand the number of restaurants in this city that have well put together wine lists, both in terms of displaying an understanding of how wine should work with the cuisine of the restaurant, and demonstrating that the wine buyer/bar manager has some understanding of wine in the broader sense.

Ryan alludes to something without saying it outright. One has to take under consideration the relationships a restaurant is able to build with its vendors. Depending on how you look at the wholesale climate here, there are either 3 or 4 primary beer distributors you can work with, then 1-2 additional outliers. Coordinate that with the number of tap lines you want to run, and/or the refrigerated storage space you can dedicate to bottles, plus seasonal availability, plus trends you clientele buy into (hoppy beers, perhaps?), plus turnover, since beer is a product that has shelf life (again, the number of places that can effectively serve/market bottle and/or cask conditioned beers in this market is really, really small) and things can get kinda complicated. A restaurant does not equal a liquor store. Heck, at the small shop I am the buyer for, we have very limited space for beer, as our focus is wine. So what we do is very targeted. We can't make everyone happy, and most responsible beverage program managers know that too. And if their liquor sales numbers aren't looking too bad, they don't have too much motivation to please those in the minority who have kinda uppity tastes (sorry, but though beer geekdom is growing, you are still in the minority).

For my part, I basically expect to be let down when it comes to the wine side of things when dining out. Or just go to the same 3-4 places, over and over again, which I'm not especially interested in doing. I live with it, and am comfortable just being a snob, and grumbling to myself when I'm really unhappy. Beverage programs that get it right with regard to beer, wine and cocktails? You probably won't even find that in most restaurants in the "A" markets (not actually my term - something I heard at a recent trade show, and no, Louisville, however well regarded as a food destination city, is not considered part of those markets).

I would guess that you are trying to observe some decorum and not specifically call out the restaurant that let you down. But it actually might serve everyone better if you did. If the owner or manager is on the forum, they could have a discussion with you about why their beer selection is the way it is. The rest of us could get an idea if we're talking about burgers or white tablecloth, or something in between. It would put some perspective on what you're talking about, was it one place, or is this your experience over a number of different beer lists?
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Jay M.

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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Jay M. » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:33 pm

Ken B wrote:... I can count on one hand the number of restaurants in this city that have well put together wine lists...

Would you name them (here or privately)? I'd like to compare your list of restaurants to mine.
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Ken B » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:43 pm

Jay M. wrote:
Ken B wrote:... I can count on one hand the number of restaurants in this city that have well put together wine lists...

Would you name them (here or privately)? I'd like to compare your list of restaurants to mine.


I'll send ya a PM later. I'm an outright snob, and though happy to talk business with anyone face to face, have a lot of friendships and business relationships that would suffer if I held forth here.
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Ryan Rogers

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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Ryan Rogers » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:06 am

Ken B wrote:....

all of that, including the part about me not adding any of those wines to my list.
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Doug Davis

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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Doug Davis » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:39 am

JustinHammond wrote:
Doug Davis wrote:But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's


Who is doing this? I'd like to pay them a visit.



Visit a few of our more notable "gastro" pubs. Or some of the indie restaurants on Bardstown. I might be exaggerating a tad because it irks me so much.


Ryan Rogers wrote:Hi Doug,

I understand your dilemma and frustration, but I think there are a few things to take into consideration. Mass market swill outsells craft beer by a disgusting margin; therefore it makes sense for restaurants to stock said swill products that move.

Chicken or the egg? Maybe its because thats all they offer? Some of my peers will drink swill over nothing. Not me.
Also it depends on what type of restaurant you are. Applebees? Sure swill to your hearts content. What is supposed to be an edgy local eatery who boasts about their beer list? Which in reality is just 20 IPA's? You are doing it wrong and need to try harder.
If you can find cooler space for every Bud, Michelob and Coors variant in a bottle, then surely you could drop the least popular of the three and add a well known ale, stout, porter and hefe. Just one of each would be welcome. For me personally the brewer is sometimes less important than the style of beer Im looking for.

Shane Campbell wrote:Blind Pig
Holy Grale
Silver Dollar
Eiderdown
Coals
Irish Rover
The Exchange
Feast
Bank Street
Fireside

I agree.
I frequent all of those with the exception of two. Add Hammerheads to the list and you have some of the best food/beer places in town. My two exceptions being Holy Grale (had some recent bad experiences there with food not beer) and Irish Rover.

Ken B wrote:I would guess that you are trying to observe some decorum and not specifically call out the restaurant that let you down. But it actually might serve everyone better if you did. If the owner or manager is on the forum, they could have a discussion with you about why their beer selection is the way it is. The rest of us could get an idea if we're talking about burgers or white tablecloth, or something in between. It would put some perspective on what you're talking about, was it one place, or is this your experience over a number of different beer lists?


I am trying to observe some decorum. While at the same time this isnt an experience limited to one or two restaurants. Its a rant thats been buidling for a while. The list of restaurants is voluminous.
1. For the most part every sushi/japanese restaurant in town with maybe one exception I can think of. Including Dragon Kings Daughter. Most have the general Michelob, Bud, Coors family of products (how many varities of American swill do you need!?!) and then add in the Japanese equivalent for swill (Kirin and Sapporo).
2. Same thing with every Mexican restaurant in town. Just substitute the Kirin and Sapporo for Corona and Dos Equis.
3. And again there are numerous local ones who fall into the "we have craft beer!" but its just twenty beers all over loaded with hops because thats what the bar manager drinks. Dragon Kings Daughter falls more into this category. They used to offer a good selection of differing types but that has fallen off lately.
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Steve P » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:35 am

I suppose I prefer to look at this subject from the perspective that my glass is (always) half full :wink:

Compared to even four or five years ago...nay, even two or three years ago the beer selection at area restaurants is light years ahead of where is -was-...As an example we just visited Chammps Americana (we used to frequent the original location in the Twin Cities back before they became a <gasp> chain). Back in "the day" Chammps had 5, maybe 6 taps, the sole "craft beer" being Sam Adams Lager...The new location here in Louisville has 25 taps, including offerings from NABC, BBC and Cumberland. I can't count on all my fingers and toes the number of places around here that have similar draft beer options. Throw in a few bottled beers offerings and...well a feller -ought- to be able to find -something- to enjoy.
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Ken B » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:29 am

Doug Davis wrote:What is supposed to be an edgy local eatery who boasts about their beer list? Which in reality is just 20 IPA's? You are doing it wrong and need to try harder.


This is more or less the problem I find in most wine lists. High volume, fruit driven wines with no finesse abound. As I said before, I've given up for the most part. So I feel you. I'd love it if you could PM me the offending edgy local eatery in question, just to satisfy my curiosity.

I actually had a lengthy and heated back and forth with Roger Baylor on here a while back regarding some of the things you bring up in response to my post. I'll dig up the thread and post it here. Not sure it will shed any further meaningful light on the subject, though. One thing that occurred to me at the time that never came up in that thread is that it is kind of culturally imperialistic to impose one's ideas of what to drink on ethnic restaurants. For instance, the reason that sakes have evolved the way they have over time is that the Japanese have a very different idea of how beverages work with their highly refined cuisine. Rather than pairing, beverages are meant as palate cleansers between courses, or exist within their own specific tradition of ritualized consumption. In Korean cuisine, there are basically not really beverages at the table during mealtime, just soup as your liquid. Is it really fair to criticize their beers as swill? They are not beer drinking cultures. Is it fair to expect the proprietors of those restaurants to accommodate your tastes? Maybe at some level, since you represent their clientele, or some part of it, and at the very least, market forces dictate that they meet the demands of the marketplace. But in terms of representing what Asian dining is about? Not so much.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you on many levels. Especially since I can't find wine I want most often I turn to beer, and if that selection stinks, as it often does, I just wait and drink what I want when I get home.
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Ken B » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:40 am

Looked over the old thread, did not really bring much to this discussion, but am putting the link here 'cause I said I would:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=18898
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Rob Coffey » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:57 am

JustinHammond wrote:
Doug Davis wrote:But selling 20 varieties of just IPA's


Who is doing this? I'd like to pay them a visit.


No one is doing that, except maybe NABC doing their lupulin-fest.

I hate exaggerations like that. Other than that though, I agree with the OP.
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Re: Beer! Its important and stuff

by Rob Coffey » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:00 am

Ryan Rogers wrote:Hi Doug,

I understand your dilemma and frustration, but I think there are a few things to take into consideration. Mass market swill outsells craft beer by a disgusting margin; therefore it makes sense for restaurants to stock said swill products that move. It's a simple supply and demand issue, and holds true with a lot of craft beers as well, as a large number of "craft" beer drinkers are really just ipa drinkers.


I dont think he said anything about not carrying mass market beers, just not carrying them EXCLUSIVELY. One heavy, one light, your mass market taps are full. If you have more than 2 taps you have room for craft. Ditto for bottles.
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