It’s time for restaurants to stop babying customers.
The average beer list is just not up to scratch and I’m calling on restauranteurs to do more.
It’s become a tiresome and all too predictable experience for beer lovers. A restaurant menu will showcase excellent wines and very often good coffee and tea. There’ll be fresh, local ingredients prepared and presented in an innovative way. And then a Crown lager or Coopers Sparkling Ale. And that’s if you’re lucky.
Food and wine menus are so often seasonal but the beer will frequently stay the same. I think restaurants could and should provide a better offering to their customers.
Have Faith In Diners And Staff
Restauranteurs, have more faith in customers. Have faith in their open-mindedness, have faith in their capacity to enjoy new experiences. Have faith in your front of house staff to be able to explain and recommend beers. If you don’t have faith in them, train them. You owe it to both your staff and customers.
Many diners will have a good knowledge of wine. Many won’t, and will at best have a vague idea of what certain varieties will taste like.
But most restaurants will recommend a wine to go with your meal.
With the amount of great beer available locally there seems no excuse not to develop a well-curated beer list.
I think restauranteurs fear that customers won’t recognise the names on a beer menu if they select superior but less mainstream beers.
Why does the same thought process not apply to wine? I’m sure there are lots of people who don’t know many of the wineries or grape varietals on a wine list. And any good wine or beer list should be providing tasting notes and suggested pairings anyway.
Restaurants are missing a huge opportunity to provide an additional and attractive offering to customers. Talk to many beer lovers, and they’ll say BYO restaurants are their best bet for enjoying beer and food outside of their homes.
Look At The Best
Taking the lead at the moment is probably Automata, another restaurant in Chippendale. Their beer list, which changes from time to time, features a curated range of Australian and international beers, representing a variety of breweries and styles, which complement their food menu perfectly.
Is it any surprise that both restaurants regular feature in lists of the best in the country? They apply the same attention to detail to everything they do, whether food, wine, service or beer.
Other Sydney restaurants, particularly those that purport to be high-end or provide a fine dining experience, would do well to follow their lead.
And if we’re to speak of following the lead of others, why not look to the very best? Denmark’s Noma has consistently been at the top of the game over the last few years. When they came to Sydney they collaborated with The Grifter, Edge Brewing and Two Metre Tall to create genuinely unique beers that encapsulated their focus on local produce and matched their food.
There’s no shame in imitating the very best.
Improvement In Mid-Tier Restaurants
But the high end is not where I see positive change happening in Sydney. Too many of those well-known restaurants seem tied to Lion or CUB.
Where I hope to see real improvement in restaurant beer lists is in the middle ground. By that I mean the restaurants which provide first rate food at a more affordable price point. A bit like those referenced above.
I’m not asking for a list full of sour beers and saisons but a better variety, with a focus on local beer which will be fresh and which will resonate with diners.
It can’t be that hard to achieve.
Have you experienced any good beer lists around Sydney or elsewhere? What do you think restaurants should do to improve their offering? Leave a comment below. Alternatively, subscribe to be notified of other features like this.