Food & Beer – We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

I really enjoyed Mark’s recent post on the ‘state’ of Beer & Food. There’s plenty in there to think about, and Mark’s right – Beer & Food hasn’t really ‘taken off’ yet in a way that we maybe thought it would do.

The problem in that statement, perhaps, is ‘we’. It’s easy to exist in a microcosm of blogging and Twitter, mistaking Twissups, Beer and food events or bottleswaps as things that everyone does. It’s very easy, as Boak & Bailey have repeatedly impressed upon us this year, to lose perspective.

Ok, here comes that trademark Leigh Linley optimism.

Despite our reservations, let’s not lose sight of the things that have changed. Again, I can only speak for Leeds and its environs, but I’m seeing much more Beer and Food interest – especially in the last two years. I personally have run formal meals at  Dough Bistro, and a few more informal events all with varying degrees of success. People come, are interested, speak to you and genuinely want to know more. What’s more, they go away either buying a bottle of what they’ve tasted or askig for it when they sit down to eat next. In the case of Dough, people were paying to come and eat -and both events that we ran sold out. People were, and are, interested.

Look at the great work Source Deli do. Look at the always-sold-out meet the brewer meals that The Cross Keys do. Byron Hamburger‘s excellent example of ongoing collaboration with Camden. Shepherd Neame recently featured on the surprisingly watchable ‘Our Food‘ in relation to Hop Harvesting (ok it wasn’t beer and food but it was a step toward recognising Beer as part of our ‘foodie’ heritage). Even the free magazine given away at the tills at Morrisons this month have a rundown of Beer on offer – and a few food suggestions.

This wasn’t happening a few years ago. We’ve come a long way!

I totally agree with Mark that it still needs a push outside that bubble; to become a way of life rather than a novelty, to be paid for in advance and enjoyed with guidance. But that’s a cultural change; and that’s not easy to achieve – maybe impossible. That breakout TV programme may never come. There are plenty of Beer cookbooks out there – some truly excellent – none of which have really ignited public imagination.

In the meantime, we should enjoy it; enjoy your beer and food – whether it be a packet of Pork Scratchings with your pint on a lunchtime or a weekend meal, shared with friends and bottles of beer rather than wine. Wine is not the enemy, but it’s culturally more ingrained.

Let’s keep heading toward that point, having fun along the way. Enjoying beer and food and always looking for the next experience – if you want to formalise it that much. I know that I prefer the range of flavour that Beer has with my food most of the time; let’s just carry on enjoying it. Who knows, maybe that’s how we affect things. By just doing.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 09/05/2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. ‘By just doing’. I like that and I think that’s right at the moment. I think it’s the casual side of things which will work rather than the stuffy sit down and drink kind of thing. Events are important and should always be encouraged but I think it’s the approach which is important now: fun, interesting, open.

    Mine is kind of a brain-dump blog post. A ‘wait, what’s going on here?’ question. Who knows what the answer is.

  2. I always find that food gets in the way of the beer…

  3. Out here in Huddersfield we rarely see even wine and food pairing evenings let alone beer, glad to hear Leeds is more active!
    And talking of scratchings, have you seen that Havery Nicks has an event for Tom Parker Bowles pork “crackling” on 20th june? 4 course meal, each dish (including dessert) has pork/bacon in it and each dish is paired with or made using an Ilkley Brewery beer. Don’t think it’s tutored but will be my 1st beer/food paired do.
    Here’s to more!

  4. I went to one of Ilkley’s finest restaurants last night with my wife – if I say it has a Michelin star, then that will give away which one it was.

    This was my first time I have ever eaten food prepared at this level. The food was wonderful, the atmosphere was intimate, the service was excellent and not at all stuffy. We had a lovely bottle of wine which we both enjoyed. It was a wonderful experience and a lovely gift from our recent wedding.

    Having said all that, I still think the restaurant is missing a trick by only having one English Bottled Beer in their repertoire. It would have been terrific to have had a different beer with each course and to be honest what is the downside for the establishment? I am guessing that the downside would be the mark up on a bottle of wine forms a significant part of the profitably of the place. Not sure how you get round that one. Any ideas?

    • Robin – I think it’s threefold; one, yes, there may be the financial side of things, high-end restuarants wanting to make sure that high-yielding wine list is not ignored. two; ignorance – unless restauranteurs want to work with someone who knows thier onions, they probably don’t know where to start, which is a crying shame, as thier business is flavour. Three – I honestly beleive there is still stigma and snobbery attached to Beer.

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