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For Hospitality Professionals and Food Connoisseurs
Issue #27 July 6, 1998
In This Issue
* Feature Article
Despite our better efforts, beer remains one of the most mysterious and misunderstood members of the gastronomic community. Many is the wine geek who can rattle off the Premiere Cru Vineyards of Bordeaux and September rainfall in the Russian River Valley, yet clings to the notion that beer is what kids drink in college because it's cheap. That's how rumors get started. And when a rumor hangs around long enough, it attains myth status. May we present some of our favorite beer myths and some suggested snappy comebacks.
MYTH: Dark Beer is Stronger Than Light Beer
Dark beer takes a lot of bad raps -- thick, bitter, flawed -- but this myth is the most common. Beer gets most of its color from roasting some or all of the grains that go into it. The heavier the roast, the darker the beer. But the depth of the roast has virtually no effect on alcohol content, which is determined by the quantity of malt used and the degree to which it is fermented. In the cases when roasting does have an effect strength, it actually can reduce a grain's ability to render alcohol.
MYTH: Ale is Stronger Than Lager
In the middle of this century, it was common for beer above a certain alcohol content to be called "ale", regardless of whether the beer was top fermenting (a true ale) or bottom fermenting (lager). This practice can still be found in some states, such as Texas. By brewing convention, your average American ale tends to be a little higher in alcohol than your average lager, but that's by design rather than by nature. In fact, ale yeast has a lower tolerance for high levels of alcohol, and the world's strongest beers tend to be, with the exception of some hybrid beers, all lagers.
MYTH: Draft Beer is Better Than Bottle Beer
This is more an assumption based on fact than a falsehood. This observation holds true for most beers your average Joe is exposed to, as draft versions are often unpasteurized and fresher. But we know about a whole realm of bottle conditioned beers -- notably many Belgian, English and American ales -- that just don't cut it on draft. In bottles, these beers have a chance to condition on their own yeast, sometimes improving over several years.
MYTH: Bock Beer is From The Bottom of the Barrel
This is a dangerous one, because it leads people to believe that beer can change styles simply by aging. Bock beers are variously brewed in late winter through the spring, and their recipes result in beers that run the gamut from pale to quite dark, from strong to really strong. If there's any truth to this myth, it would apply to Maerzen beers, which were traditionally brewed in March, consumed throughout the summer, and finished off in late September at harvest festivals like Oktoberfest. By the time these last stores of Maerzen were consumed, the beer had gathered quite a bit of strength and complexity.
MYTH: Guinness is Really Strong
This one is true only if you've had Guinness in Belgium or Africa. The versions we get in America run from about 3.8%ABV (draft & pub draft cans) to around 4.5% in the bottle. While the Belgian and African bottled versions top out around 8%ABV, the Irish & American versions are designed as "session" beers, to be drunk over a period that might last six, seven, eight hours. Only a low-alcohol beer could accompany such sessions. The root of the myth is probably those yahoos who only drink Guinness once a year, accompanied by far too many glasses of Jameson. See also first myth.
MYTH: The Best Beer Comes in Green Bottles
This one's a hangover from the early days of post-war imports. To distinguish European beer from domestic blue-collar brews, importers started to use green bottles. It quickly became a status symbol, and domestic breweries began putting their better stuff in green to cash in on the import association. The fact is, green glass is actually is efficient in protecting beer against the harmful effects of light than brown glass.
MYTH: Beer Makes You Fat
Anything you eat has the potential to make you fat, including beer. But where this notion becomes a myth is over which properties put the belly in your beer. Carbohydrates are often blamed, but they're not as bad as people might think, as they contain lots of food value. The dual culprits are alcohol (which is the main source of calories in beer and, being devoid of food value, a good example of "empty calories") and the resultant inactivity that virtually every drinker -- beer and otherwise -- experiences after a couple.
MYTH: Beer Tastes Best Out of a Frozen Mug
Actually, beer tastes least the colder it gets, just like any food. Ever wonder why pizza loses its zip when you have it out of the fridge the next morning? No, it's not the cotton in your mouth -- it's that most flavor components have an ideal temperature range. To suppress the impact of these flavor components, simply lower the temperature. This technique works fine for beers whose flavors you might want to minimize, but -- like with red wine and cheese -- has limited application to the good stuff. In addition, a frozen glass tends to dissipate most of the CO2 in your beer, leaving it flat and tasteless.
Jim Anderson is the publisher of "Beer Philadelphia." He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tapping Into Star Power
Business Plans for Restaurants
DiRoNA Guide On-line
After reaching 85 winners in our quest towards the top 100 hospitality sites in March we took some time off to let the nominations pour in. Here now, we're pleased to announce our 5 newest winners...
Great Chefs - http://www.greatchefs.com
Steven Shaw's New York Restaurant Review
The Waiter's Revenge - http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/1227
F&B Manager - http://www.ranw.com
Bar World - http://www.barworld.com
Visit the main Top 100 page for a description of the review process and a full review of our winners: http://www.restaurantreport.com/Top100/index.html.
In response to last issue's feature article on purchasing...
Hello, first of all, sorry if there are any misspellings, English is not my native language - and that's the reason why I might make a mistake.
I read the 10 tips for purchasing and I disagree strongly on two concepts mentioned in this article.
First, it is mentioned that friendship with your purveyors is not very good, we are here to make business, not friendships. In my experience, friendship with a purveyor is a two way street, this meaning that you can use this friendship in two ways, resulting in having preference over your competitors for price, quality and prompt delivery. This relationship can help you in many ways as long as used with honesty but to your business advantage.
Second, this article suggest that doing bigger purchases, will help you. Our Companies are in a very unstable economy, the Mexican Caribbean, we do import pretty much everything from U.S.A., reason we buy about one hundred thousand dollars a month from different vendors for the OUTBACK Steakhouse Franchise and Pat O Brien's. In our experience, we came to a conclusion that cash flow is more important business wise than having a large stock of goods. Any economist can expand greatly on this, the lower the inventory is the healthier Company you will run.
Thanks for the opportunity to review something I disagree with.
More feedback on Jack Mauro's article "Brave New Order"...
That was the best article I have ever read concerning restaurant service. You hit the nail right on the head! And you are right, restaurant owners and managers are to blame. We have accepted second rate employees because it is easier to "wait and see" if they get better than to cut them loose early on. And your remarks regarding the "salesman" waiter/waitress that many owners are molding were right on target. As a former waitress who now manages, I know you have to truly enjoy serving the public, hopefully work in an establishment that provides excellent food and the good tips will come. Thanks again a for saying some things that need to be heard by every restaurant owner around the country!
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