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Jay M.

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by Jay M. » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:18 pm

Charles W. wrote:There"s a simple answer: fine beer is not associated with fine dining. Think of it the opposite way: what restaurant has the finest beer list within 100 miles? A place that serves pizza. You'd never see a wine list that that matches your beer list at a bar/pizza place.


Bingo.

Also, you can place some blame where it is traditionally placed - with the mega beer producers and their obscene marketing budgets. Beer advertisements (which are driven by the BudMillerCoors folks) show their product associated with football, baseball. basketball, burgers, parties, and T&A young females - never with fine dining. Maybe when Chateau Mouton-Rothschild begins advertising during the Super Bowl or when Geek-Beer-Obscure-Brew starts catering to the $ 30+ entree crowd, the tide will turn on the wine vs. beer debate.
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Roger A. Baylor

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by Roger A. Baylor » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:42 pm

Charles W. wrote:There"s a simple answer: fine beer is not associated with fine dining. Think of it the opposite way: what restaurant has the finest beer list within 100 miles? A place that serves pizza. You'd never see a wine list that that matches your beer list at a bar/pizza place.


This gets to the essence of the debate.

It's okay to challenge a customer when it comes to food and wine, but not with beer. But would such a fine menu as the one at Corbett's be possible if talented chefs had not challenged the customer?

Yes, beer is not associated with fine dining. But, craft beer sales were up 12% last year, and I'd hazard a guess that the demographic willing to spend for good beer parallels that willing to ante up for fine dining.

I have only two observations to make, and I promise to leave it alone:

(1) Read "The Brewmaster's Table" by Garrett Oliver, and ...

(2) Permit me to pair beers with Dean Corbett's cuisine some time and I'll prove what's possible.

The reason why some of you don't see the possibilities is because you haven't been exposed to them.

Over. Out.
Roger A. Baylor
New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Ron Johnson » Mon Dec 31, 2007 10:29 am

As long as we are comparing this issue to wine, let me add this thought. As a wine geek, and someone who used to work in the industry, I care very deeply about the wine list at a restaurant. BUT, I do not care so much about what they offer on the list as I do about what they DON'T offer. In other words, I couldn't give a hang if they have white zinfandel and mass market plonk on the list, as long as they still have lots of old world, interesting, fairly priced, off the beaten path wines.

So, I wouldn't care so much about a place offering budweiser as long as it offers Dogfish Head, Rogue, and maybe a cask ale or two. By offering all, the owner has to say "no" to fewer customers, meaning he/she has more happy customers, and he/she always has the opportunity to educate the consumer and let them try a microbrew instead of a Bud on occassion. This is how you win converts.
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by Roger A. Baylor » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:18 am

Point taken, but there are ways around it if you're willing to be pro-active. While we do not offer Bud, Miller, Coors or any of the big three's light beers, we have Spaten Premium Lager from Munich on draft every day. It is golden, it is light to medium bodied, it isn't bitter, the price is fair and we sell four kegs a week of it, plus another of Pilsner Urquell.

When someone asks for a Bud, the servers know to offer a sample of Spaten as an alternative. It hardly ever fails.

Any restaurant that includes "Okinawa potato ravioli, leek fondue, garlic chives and Pecorino" as a menu item already is serving notice that there will be few (if any) compromises when it comes to the menu. I'm not a wine guy, but my guess would be that if such an establishment could find something similar to White Zinfandel without those words appearing on the label, it would train the wait staff to offer such a wine as an alternative.

And yet, the conventional wisdom about beer is permitted to dictate an entirely different set of considerations. The conventional wisdom is rationalized as being something beyond hope of altering, but if conventional wisdom had not already been successfully challenged, there would be no market for the Okinawa potato ravioli -- and there obviously is.

As Garrett Oliver writes, "Real beer CAN do everything" when it comes to pairing with the current diversity of cuisines in America. But if it isn't allowed the chance, the "business as usual" paradigm won't ever change. Why doesn't beer get the same boost as other aspects of the restaurant?

And, as with the kitchen and the wine list, shouldn't this knowledge come from the management, and not the wholesalers?
Roger A. Baylor
New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Will Crawford » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:39 am

Roger,

It seems that if you really want your argument to stand then you should change your menu. You have all of these incredible beers but your menu is what would be expected at a beer joint. Pizza, Lasanga and sandwhichs. Put your money where you mouth is and step up your menu. You are living the same double standard that you are accusing the top tables in Louisville of. Only in reverse. Lead the way.
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by Ron Johnson » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:47 am

Roger A. Baylor wrote:Point taken, but there are ways around it if you're willing to be pro-active. While we do not offer Bud, Miller, Coors or any of the big three's light beers, we have Spaten Premium Lager from Munich on draft every day. It is golden, it is light to medium bodied, it isn't bitter, the price is fair and we sell four kegs a week of it, plus another of Pilsner Urquell.

When someone asks for a Bud, the servers know to offer a sample of Spaten as an alternative. It hardly ever fails.


This was the same approach I used with wine when I worked in the restaurant business. Our top selling wine was Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. I went to the owner and told him I was taking it off the wine list. He asked why. I said, "because it sucks." He said go for it. When we did not renew our order the next week, the OWNER of the liquor distributor came to our restaurant and demanded an explanation. He had spread sheets to show how much we sold. We still didn't put it back on the list. Lots of people came in and asked for it (this was early 1990's when K-J chard was ubiquitous) and we steered them toward other wines. By doing that I expanded the white wines from sauvignon blanc and chardonnay only to include riesling, pinto blanc, albarino, vouvray, and gavi. But, during all that time, I kep the Beringer White Zinfandel. There's just no helping those folks . . . :shock:
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by Roger A. Baylor » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:53 am

Will Crawford wrote:Roger,

It seems that if you really want your argument to stand then you should change your menu. You have all of these incredible beers but your menu is what would be expected at a beer joint. Pizza, Lasanga and sandwhichs. Put your money where you mouth is and step up your menu. You are living the same double standard that you are accusing the top tables in Louisville of. Only in reverse. Lead the way.


(Shrug) I do what I do, and I've done it with the resources and position I was dealt. I've been "leading the way" for 15 years, and I feel fairly upbeat about it.

When I consider the considerable investment required to convert a "beer joint" into a "top table", versus the minimal investment required to just augment what a reigning top table already does by simply adding a worthy beer list, it would seem that the top tables might consider that they're getting some mighty cheap and effective advice.

Instead, I get hooted down by the same group every time this topic comes up. Will, I've never doubted that I have much to learn from you when it comes to a kitchen. What puzzles me is why you won't return the courtesy when it comes to beer.
Roger A. Baylor
New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Roger A. Baylor » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:56 am

Ron Johnson wrote: ... I kept the Beringer White Zinfandel. There's just no helping those folks . . . :shock:


Tough love, baby. Tough love.
8)
They'll appreciate it later, just as I did when the server at t' Brugs Beertje would NOT serve me the beer I requested because it wasn't yet the proper time for it.

Instead of lashing back, I learned something.
Roger A. Baylor
New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Will Crawford » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:24 pm

Roger,
You mention courtesy and yet you publicly criticize operators in the same industry for their beer lists on this very open forum. You get more flies with sugar than with vinegar. Maybe a well toned private letter or email offering your expertise would be more in order.
I’m sure you have plenty to teach me but there is no way I am going to get rid of my Bub and Miller selections. I carry all of the BBC beers and they sell very well and are recognized.
As for expense- Well that is what it comes down to. I'm sure even though you have Comrade Lenin all over you establishment you are still in the business to make $$$. I'm sure while Dean is trying to "shape customer taste" he is also trying to make some money and by eliminating the beers you think he should from his list he risks loosing money on those sales from the same guy that will buy his fabulous Filet for $49. If he cannot get his Bud light he may not come back the next time. I have seen it happen.
Can't we all just get along? Can't the craft beers and the mass beers all coexist on the same list?
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by Roger A. Baylor » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:38 pm

Will Crawford wrote:Roger, You mention courtesy and yet you publicly criticize operators in the same industry for their beer lists on this very open forum. Can't we all just get along? Can't the craft beers and the mass beers all coexist on the same list?


The Comrade Lenin stuff is there only because I enjoy watching tiny brains explode. I'm a capitalist, albeit a very reluctant one at times.

To clarify, and as pertains to the current thread, I've not criticized the Corbett list at all. I asked what was on it. Scott from Schlafly said Schlafly, and he'd check on the rest. I said cool, that's a fine sign, and shouldn't the presence of Bud take a half-star off anywhere?

And we were galloping to the races.

It would seem that what is being said here is this: A "pizza joint" with $7 sandwichs can challenge its customers with the world's best beer sans a nondescript Bud, but a "top table" with $49 entrees cannot risk doing so.

That strikes me as odd, indeed, and I'm forced to conclude that there is a misreading of demographics to blame.
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New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Will Crawford » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:54 pm

Roger,

I do not see a wine list on your site. Do you have one and what is on it? Does it challange the way your beers do?
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by Roger A. Baylor » Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:10 pm

No. We carry roughly twelve wines, and if it were up to me, we wouldn't carry any, because I'm keenly aware that the investment required to stock 250+ bottles, 25+ guest drafts and also run a brewery (8 - 10 other taps) precludes being able to do wine the way it should be done.

But no worries here, since we have no pretensions toward status as a "top table." As you've noted, we're merely a humble "pizza joint," albeit one trying to punch above its weight to prove an occasional inconvenient truth.

Speaking only for myself, I rather enjoy the notion of taking a previously unrecognized niche and proving that people were mistaken to have ignored it. Are there different bars for pizza joints and top tables? If so, what are they, and to what extent does clearing these bars factor into the final equation?
Roger A. Baylor
New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Will Crawford » Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:16 pm

Roger A. Baylor wrote:No. We carry roughly twelve wines, and if it were up to me, we wouldn't carry any, because I'm keenly aware that the investment required to stock 250+ bottles, 25+ guest drafts and also run a brewery (8 - 10 other taps) precludes being able to do wine the way it should be done.


Gee yet you expect others to do beer the way it should be done according to you.
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by Roger A. Baylor » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:03 pm

Will, you're so personally invested in this that you continue to resist seeing the forest for the trees.

I don't recall ever making exaggerated claims about what I do for a living. What it boils down to is taking great joy in proving a point, illustrating the idiocy of conventional wisdom, and scoring a few bucks to boot. Since we've just concluded our most profitable year in history, obviously there's some tangible proof to my modest goals.

Seeing as I adore drinking and eating, I don't think it's too far fetched for me to suggest that the glories of real beer paired with real food can enhance fine dining, and furthermore, that real beer should someday be considered a part of any "top table's" plan of operation.

To get back to my original point (hard as that may seem), if we all agree that certain things detract from the experience/rating at a top table (i.e., dirty glassware, rancid foie gras, server's nosering, or whatever), then might we also logically add to this list of negatives the presence of ordinary, vapid lager beer to the exclusion of beers whose higher conceptual essences mirror the higher conceptual essences of those other factors (cuisine, wine, service) making these place top tables?

Why should beer be different?
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NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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by Will Crawford » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:29 pm

Roger,
No one ever suggested that Dean only serve Bud. But what is the point in excluding it?

I'm not personally vested in this. However it is obvious that you are. I am simply pointing out your hypocrisy. Put your money where your mouth is and change the world starting in New Albany. Invest in a chef and a wine inventory and then you can tell other business owners what to do.

Good Luck.
Will Crawford
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