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Beer lists at fine-dining restaurants

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by TappaKeggaBrew, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. AxesandAnchors

    AxesandAnchors Savant (300) Oregon Nov 21, 2012

    Yeah no doubt we are spoiled here, with both great food and a supportive craft beer community. And you're right you pretty much can't find a single place in town that doesn't at least have some craft beer selection. I guess anytime you are exposed to a lot of good stuff your expectations increase. I just wish I could have even more amazing beer when I eat out rather than just craft, because while a simple selection of craft may be great in most cities here it's par for the course. After all just because a beer is craft doesn't make it good.

    "Jaded", man I don't think I am...just have high standards I guess
  2. Kelp

    Kelp Advocate (585) New Hampshire Mar 6, 2008

    I've been to a few places around my area and moat of them, even the steakhouses carry some decent micro offerings. Nothing mind blowing, but some nice simple examples of ipa's, porter's, stout's etc... Usually even a few local taps. Sure they have the usual BMC stuff, but at least there are other options.
  3. There are pretty decent offerings in SF, but we do have a lot more restaurants that focus on local, farm to table. I was recently impressed by Bar Crudo. I think there is more beer on their beer list than wine on their wine list.
  4. In Boston, this really is not a problem. If a restaurant has a fancy wine list, it is likely to carry craft brews too!
  5. HoldenDurden

    HoldenDurden Savant (400) Illinois Nov 27, 2011 Beer Trader

    I echo the sentiment about Chicago, almost all of the so-called fine dining options have solid craft beer offerings. Moreover, its been that way for a few years. Stephanie Izard's restaurant, Girl and the Goat, has been offering crazy good craft beers since the first time I went there in 2010. Three Floyds on draft back then. Mastro's might be the most expensive/contemporary steak restaurant in town and I've had bombers of Three Floyds' Broo Doo and Blackheart there. They've also had Daisy Cutter and GI offerings. I had Parabola and Zombie Dust at Publican last year. I just had Hopslam at Sable downtown last weekend too. Chicago's fine-dining options have been offering beer lists to rival wine lists for years.
  6. msween21

    msween21 Savant (395) Massachusetts Jan 2, 2013 Beer Trader

    Going to one of Boston's finest steakhouses this weekend. The online menu doesnt say anything about beer, so I have no idea what to expect. You would think a great beer and a great steak should got together, but I'll probably have to drink wine.
  7. If the place doesn't have good beer, then I probably won't like the food. The chefs who make the food I like care about every product they serve and would never serve sub par beer.
  8. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Savant (455) Illinois Mar 13, 2011 Subscriber

    That's the upside of AB InBev's purchase of Goose Island. It has saved me numerous times, when beer lists are full of BMC...and Goose Island. Still skeptical about what it will do to Goose Island long term, but glad there's a beer worth having at restaurants that would otherwise frustrate.
  9. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poobah (1,255) Arizona Jun 18, 2002

    Was that place formerly known as Chef Paul? I used to live in Lisle.
  10. mecummins

    mecummins Savant (425) Illinois Nov 16, 2012

    Damn. I guess that 's good enough reason to go to Lisle. ;)
  11. I'm quite a fan of Poor Richard's in Cheyenne. :cool:
  12. njhopspop

    njhopspop Savant (345) New Jersey Oct 17, 2010

    I'm sure it will take longer in some areas than others but it's already starting to happen. The demand for better quality everything (not just beer) is growing and many local restaurants in my area (Central NJ) are starting to carry a better selection of craft. Which is nice because I detest chain restaurants.
  13. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Advocate (635) New Jersey Mar 6, 2008 Subscriber Beer Trader

    High end resturants may not be all that intrested in selling beer. Even inexpensive wines can cost more than an entree very few beers do.
  14. Errto

    Errto Savant (325) Connecticut Oct 20, 2009

    That's a good point. People are used to paying roughly double retail for a good bottle of wine in a nice restaurant. I get the sense that tolerance isn't there for beer, or not yet anyway. Agree/disagree?
  15. BigTomZ

    BigTomZ Savant (325) Virginia Apr 14, 2009

    I agree with the OP. I have been to some nice restaurants that have nothing but BMC and a few Euro macros. Even when I go to a high end steak house or Brazilian Churrascaria, clearly restaurants men love, have virtually no craft beer.

    It sucks, but wine rules high end dining and will continue to do so.
  16. Graviz

    Graviz Savant (395) Colorado Feb 26, 2012 Beer Trader

    Not sure I would call Olive Garden fine dining but though this was funny what people think premium beer is.
    gardenstatepkwy likes this.
  17. I am sure - that I definitely wouldn't.
  18. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,215) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member Beer Trader

    Couple of thoughts.

    I think as consumers become more sophisticated about beer, and as there is increasing demand for good beer in finer restaurants, we'll gradually see more restaurants offer it. Right now I can only assume that most "fine dining" restaurants don't perceive there to be sufficient demand to justify the hassle and expense of maintaining a good beer selection. Aside from the cost of obtaining the beer, they'll have to also educate their staff, and perhaps even have a beer sommelier. Also, unlike wine, freshness is very much an issue when it comes to beer, so that would affect a restaurant's buying stratedgy. For instance, they might be able to save some money by buying a certain case allotment of Brand A or Brand B IPA, but unless they're sure they can move it all within a short period of time, buying beer in large quantities might not be a wise course of action (a case of penny wise, but pound foolish).

    That being said, I think it's a mistake to equate beer with wine like this. Granted, restaurants may be able to mark wine up higher than beer (I actually think the industry norm is more like two and half to three times over retail), but that's not really a consideration, except for those few customers who are satisfied with either beverage. Just from what I've seen on this site, those who enjoy beer with their meal are not happy or satisfied if they are given the opportunity to have a glass of wine in it's place. So I think restaurants are definitely losing a sale opportunity every time a customer comes in who wants to have a great glass of beer (or three) with his meal, rather than a glass or bottle of wine. In fact, not only is the customer dissatisfied, the restaurant may lose him/her permanently as a customer if he/she feels that the restaurant is not sensitive to his/her desires. So that's potentially a fairly big risk for a restaurant to take, one most restaurants typically would not wan to take, unless they're fairly certain the likelihood of incurring that risk is minimal, while the expense of avoiding the risk all together is great and/or expensive. At present, I assume most "fine dining" restaurants just figure the expense and hassle of offering a nice selection of good beer is too great, while the reward is seen as either insignificant, or simply too difficult to even ascertain at the present time.
    jgluck likes this.
  19. Baab200

    Baab200 Savant (455) New York Jan 9, 2013 Beer Trader

    Just this past Sunday I ate at Bone fish, and was shocked at the beer selection they had considering they are a chain. They had a few great lakes on tap, but what really surprised me was they had bombers of Brooklyn local 1 & 2. Bombers of hennepin, witte, and three philosophers, and a rogues stout.
  20. Baab200

    Baab200 Savant (455) New York Jan 9, 2013 Beer Trader

    And this is Syracuse New York
  21. These "observations" are unrelated. True craft beer bars are not the type of environment that people go to watch sports games and get "plastered". The places you are describing would not be places I would expect to find a good/varied craft beer selection.

    I do agree that the main factor is that the fine drinking type are much more likely to be wine folks. Its unlikely that a high priced dining establishment would be excluding many patrons by having a limited beer menu.
  22. WeymouthMike

    WeymouthMike Advocate (545) Massachusetts Jun 22, 2004 Beer Trader

    Any suggestions? I haven't seen anything of interest at any of the steakhouses. Tremont St restauramts tend to have a small but decent selection.
  23. luwak

    luwak Savant (405) Arizona Mar 2, 2010 Beer Trader

    I get emails from two different fine dining establishments in mt city as I'm on their mailing lists.
    They tell em all about their new dishes and weird promotions and sometimes they ask for feedback.

    I have recently (within the last month) replied to one of them and told them i think they need a (serious) beer list.
    this place has 400 wine bottles and Heineken and Corona (Corona Light, even!).
    I gave them a list if 20 breweries and about 50 beers worth seeking out that i know they can get in my state. I even included food pairing recommendations.this place thinks of it self as progressive and so I gently advised that while i loved their creative food ideas, ambiance etc,Ii felt they were slipping behind the times by not acknowledging the craft beer revolution in America and its place in the "foodie movement" etc...
    Personally i don't drink when I eat but i'd like to see some real beer at good restaurants. And i do often order beer before and or after a meal I certainly would at the places in question if they had anything worth drinking.

    So far no response from them. I just hope they consider it.

    I suggest everybody send a thoughtful well composed positive email to local restaurants they patronize if they feel the beer selection is lacking. I'm sure many restaurateurs don't even think beer on their customers' radar. we need tor ell them that it is.
    Dtapeski and jgluck like this.
  24. luwak

    luwak Savant (405) Arizona Mar 2, 2010 Beer Trader

    I dunno . We have a few great craft beer bars where i live and there's annoying sports on the tvs and drunk ass people there while others drinking $30 bottles and $12 drafts all day.

    Sometimes the two groups have non-trivial intersection.
  25. Its not too much of a problem here in Raleigh.......most of the "nice" restaurants here at least offer some local taps and/or bottles. To be honest i'm good with that. I don't need to go in there and add $40+ to my bill for beers that I could get for half the price at the bottle shop.
  26. Tee2Grn

    Tee2Grn Advocate (580) Michigan Nov 6, 2012 Beer Trader

  27. DBijnagte

    DBijnagte Savant (305) Minnesota Dec 7, 2012 Beer Trader

    I haven't really noticed that problem in Minneapolis. We just went to one of the nicer restaurants a few weeks ago that was tapping a 2010, 2011, 2012 vertical of Abyss not to mention the only keg of CBS that entered our state (that I know of) went to one of the favorite/best restaurants. I feel like most of the newer/nicer restaurants in the twin cities are taking notice and offering a strong tap list.
  28. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poobah (1,255) Arizona Jun 18, 2002

    Craft beer bars with TV's (as most have several) have the shouting & cheering patrons like any other bar when there's "the game" on. And honestly, the sad part is that they're not plastered when they're doing this.

    Not sure where you're finding such quiet craft places with a typical assortment of TV's. (must be nice)

    Plus the food expectations are still very, very different. Gastropubs are the exception. If I'm at a craft beer place I'm almost always going to find an assortment of fried this and that (and other typical bar food). Different beverages, different food... different people & a different experience.
    luwak likes this.
  29. Definitely agree on the food expectations. (in boston/cambridge area btw). Good beer bars here like Deep Ellum, Bukowskis, CBC, ect, the food is always underwhelming.

    I guess I'm probably in an area where theres enough bar options where most of the sports fans/heavy drinkers are more likely to hit the chain/lower priced pubs and sports bars, and the gastropubs/beer bars attract a different clientele. Having said that, I find both destinations vaible for different occasions. There are certainly more of the former than the latter.

    Unfortunately you'll only find quieter bars, with great craft selection in areas wheres theres a big enough clientele base to support them.
  30. I guess alot depends on the quality of the food being served, and just because a place might not be a "dress-up" fancy establishment does not mean they dont serve gourmet food. On that note the best place I have eaten that specializes in gourmet burgers and craft beer would be Slaters 50/50 in Southern Califormia. There I discovered Alagash Curieux, ofcoarse it cost $20 a bottle but I think it was worth it.
  31. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poobah (1,255) Arizona Jun 18, 2002

    Yes I agree. Cheeky Monk in Denver has only a few miniature TV's and they're difficult to see. It's the most mellow place to be during a big game, and I love it. Couple spots in Portland, Oregon were like this too where I saw a lot of people doing things like play a quiet game of chess, reading a classic book, and the sports on the limited TV was European football. Sadly those places are rare. I love them.
    BigCheese likes this.
  32. Craft in LA has a decent beer list and does annual beer dinners with the bruery. Another interesting one here in SoCal is carthay circle restaurant in disneys California adventure has a very respectable list of craft beers on their beer menu, stuff from bear republic, north coast, ballast point, the bruery, and some standard Belgium offerings as well.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  33. p90beer

    p90beer Aficionado (145) Delaware Jan 10, 2011

    In Philly, almost all have good craft list and many have rotating craft draft. In fact, the leading trend fine dining restauranteers have been opening craft-themed restaurants - Frankford Hall, Alla Spina - and will continue
  34. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poobah (1,255) Arizona Jun 18, 2002

    Wish I had known sooner. Spent all of my time near the Karl Strauss Bus. I couldn't believe they were only $7 (for a themepark price).
  35. GarrettOliver

    GarrettOliver Initiate (0) New York Jul 25, 2003

    The reasons are pretty simple, and they're threefold. (1) Ignorance: Craft beer is the only item in American food and drink where it is common for the customers to have greater knowledge than the establishment serving it. To understand how bad this is, imagine if half the customers of a steakhouse knew more about steak than anyone working for the steakhouse, including the chef. This explains the runaway success of the Cicerone program - some people are smart enough to realize they'd better learn something. (2) Fear. "Don't know, stick head in sand, hope it goes away. Please don't hurt me." (3) Wine is the tentpole - or crutch - of the fine dining restaurant. Many wines are marked up 400 - 500%, even more if you're getting wine by the glass. Anything that seems like it might threaten the wine sale is therefore avoided. The mistake here is that no one ever loses wine sales by putting on a great beer list. They sell just as much wine, but also sell some beer, resulting in a higher check average and happier customers (a combination AKA "the Holy Grail"). But most restaurateurs haven't figured that out yet. The top restaurant in NYC, Eleven Madison Park, has 140 beers on its list, and a great list it is. There are leaders out there. Just not enough of them.
    jeagleton and dennis3951 like this.
  36. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Advocate (635) New Jersey Mar 6, 2008 Subscriber Beer Trader

    This post should end the thread!
    jeagleton likes this.
  37. jeagleton

    jeagleton Aficionado (115) New York Mar 31, 2014

    Hey Mr. Oliver, your post is over 10 years old but still reads as fresh as fact. EMP's list has only gotten better but where is Per Se's list? You put together a dinner with Chef Benno several years ago but I haven't seen any other efforts from them. All day I've been making a spreadsheet of the beer lists at all the Michelin-starred restaurants in the city (Surprising/ not surprising to learn that the 3 beers most likely to show up on these lists is as follows: Non-alcoholic Einbecker, Saison Dupont and then Hitachino's White Ale!). These days the Modern and Gramercy Tavern (way to hire, Danny Meyer!) have nice lists and the restaurant I buy beer for is similarly good. But in spite of the fact that we boast a Michelin star, a James Beard Award for our bar program and a stellar wine team, we sell relatively little beer.

    Why are the lists at Jean Georges, Le Bernadin & Daniel 9 bottles or less?

    On the flip side: how can we look to restaurants like Luksus for inspiration? Can we learn from Luksus or is an inimitable, stubborn and stalwart gem in the world of food and not-wine-but-beer?
  38. readyski

    readyski Savant (385) California Jun 4, 2005 Beer Trader

    I wonder if I will ever see the day when beer is regarde as an equal/substitute to wine. It would be awesome to order cellared beers (eg 2008 BCBS). Hmm just a fantasy for now :rolleyes:
  39. jeagleton

    jeagleton Aficionado (115) New York Mar 31, 2014

    Misread the date stamp on the G. Oliver's post. It's only a year old, I can see that!
  40. jeagleton

    jeagleton Aficionado (115) New York Mar 31, 2014

    I think we're getting closer to that. The trading community is getting so big and beer expertise is starting to leak out into more and more places (shops, restaurants, bars...)
    jrnyc likes this.