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Drinking Beer with Dinner in a Restaurant

Usually, a restaurant is an unlikely place to find a good beer. Wine has always been, and still is, the conceptual favorite for food and drink pairing. But now there’s hope. More and more often, you can expect to find an upscale eatery that’s either decided to wake up and smell the barley or has received numerous requests for something other than Chateauneuf Dew Pop and Vin d’Pay d’ay. Such a restaurant has a beer list, or at least a few decent craft brews to offer. Some are also starting to have occasional beer dinners.

The beer dinner is a phenomenon inspired by the plethora of available gourmet brews. Beer dinners are hosted by restaurants, brewpubs, gastropubs, and beer bars across the country. These places may not necessarily be known for their lengthy beer menus, but their owners recognize the draw of good beer. Beer dinners are often a joint effort between the chef and a hired beer celebrity — a brewmaster, beer importer, or beer writer.

Beer dinners customarily feature several courses that spotlight certain beer and food combinations and often use beer as an ingredient in as many of the dishes as possible. A typical beer dinner menu lists the dishes along with the beer served with each course; menus may also have a few lines of background about each beer. These events are a real treat, but they don’t come cheap. Look for special promotions and plan on making reservations way in advance.

Because beer dinners don’t occur every night of the week, they are, more or less, hit-or-miss propositions. To make sure you don’t miss any of these events, you may want to get on the mailing (and e-mail) list of establishments that are known to host beer dinners.

Some dinners may be themed. For example, one dinner may feature beers from only Germany or Belgium. Or at a banquet that features oyster dishes, Stout may be the only beer style served (oysters and Stout are a classic pairing). Themes can be food (such as game or fish), seasons, local specialties, or cooking styles.

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