Anyone worth their fleur de sel knows that wine is the proper drink to accompany good food. It’s time-honored, suitably French (therefore snooty) and an excellent way to blow a whole lot of money to impress your date.
But what if there was another beverage? One which offered just as much flavor, went just as well with your meal and wouldn’t break the bank? Is that something you would be interested in?
As I made my way around town during my second annual Philly Beer Week Pub Crawl, it occurred to me that — in so many ways — beer is superior to wine. It’s sacrilege to say this, I know, and it would certainly not have been true twenty years ago, in the days before the craft beer revolution. But in 2011, the flavors, experiences and overall vibrant culture attached to beer appreciation offers a more dynamic experience to a larger audience than wine does.
How so? Well…
1. It’s Cheaper than Wine. Think of the best wine in the world. Then think about how much it would cost for a glass of it. The mind reels. I had what I believe to be the best beer in the world — Russian River’s Pliny the Younger — and it was about $10 for an eight ounce pour. While frugality isn’t the main thing you want to strive for when you’re talking about booze, just think about how quickly you can develop your palate and learn to enjoy the “big boys” when you only have to lay out single digits for the privilege.
2. It Pairs Well with More Food. Pop quiz: What kind of wine are you bringing to your favorite Indian or Thai BYOB tonight? Yeah, that can get sticky, especially if you have to pick one bottle for for multiple diners. With beer, you can cover all your bases at these hard-to-match restaurants with any number of beer varieties, including a hoppy pale ale, pilsner or good quality lager.
3. The Tap System. Go to a bar and order a glass of wine and you won’t be getting the good stuff. For that you have to fork over for a bottle. But go to a bar with a good tap selection and you’ll be able to drink the best beer the house has to offer one glass at a time, which means you can get a few new brews under your belt in a visit. Bonus beer geek tip: Any good beer bar will have no problem if you ask for a small sample, which is a good way to get a quick taste of something that you may not want to devote a whole pint to.
Personal taste may mean that we can never definitively say that beer is better than wine, but there are a lot of compelling reasons why, if you’re looking to expand your horizons and learn to better appreciate a drink, beer is the way to go. The only way to get better is to drink a lot — and a wide variety — of it, and in that department, beer makes a pretty compelling case.