Beer has truly arrived, if the number of restaurant beer and food pairing events is any indication. Consider these examples: Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse in Maple Grove, MN, held a beer and food pairing event last month, featuring craft beers from local brewer, Summit Brewing. Priced at $60 plus tax and tip, chef Andrew Suthers' menu offered pairings such as Smoked Pork Shank with Summit Horizon Red Ale. In New York City, The Mermaid Oyster Bar held a Brews and Bivalves dinner in May, co-hosted by executive chef Laurence Edelman and Brewmaster Greg Hall, featuring Goose Island Brewery's Belgian-style reserve beers. The event was priced at $55, plus tax and gratuity. This month, World Cafe Live in Philadelphia is hosting a three-course beer and wine-tasting dinner prepared by executive chef Michael Breslin, priced at $95 per person (all inclusive). Guests also receive a copy of the book He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione and Marnie Old, who will be in attendance.
Beer's popularity is also evident in the 2010 National Restaurant Association's “What's Hot” survey conducted with professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation. Among the top 50 trends listed are locally produced wine and beer ( 5) food and beer pairings (28); craft beer and microbrews (30); gluten-free beer (38); and specialty beer (42).
According to c.e.o. J. Michael Sanford, at The Greene Turtle — a sports and grill casual dining restaurant chain with 24 locations in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, DC — beer is a significant part of sales. All told, the beverage side of the business accounts for 40% of total sales. In addition to featuring beverages on the food menu, several programs at The Greene Turtle promote draft beer sales.
The “Beef up Your Beer ” program is highlighted in the restaurant's Play Book. (The Play Book itself features daily food and beer specials, and is placed on each table in the restaurant.) Implemented a year ago, the promotion has consistently led to increased beer sales systemwide. It offers an upgrade from 16-oz. to a 22-oz. domestic or craft/import beer for $1 or $1.50, respectively. There's also a Mug Club loyalty program. An average of 1,000 customers per site have joined the Mug Club.
PAIRING BEER & CHEESE
Emmi-Roth Käse USA offers the following suggestions for beer and cheese pairings:
Gruyere: Bock, Porter or Nut Brown Ale.
Emmentaler: Wheat Beer
Havarti: Lager, Pilsner
GranQueso: Wheat Beer
Aged Cheddar: Stout, big and bold with rich cocoa and coffee flavors
Gorgonzola: Porter or Oktoberfest brew
Buttermilk Blue: Raspberry or Cherry Lambic
Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics suggests the following beer pairings with their cheeses:
Mascarpone: Honey Weiss or Berry Weiss
Les Freres: Wheat Beer or a hearty Pilsner