Last week Irene and I had another fantastic meal at a fantastic restaurant with another shoddy beer list. So rather than continue to complain about it (though I know I will) I came up with another idea instead. Create a cookie-cutter beer list that will allow area restaurants to not only make money, but to also provide upscale beers that are more fitting to the cuisine they serve. I’m going to offer up a small (10 beers), medium (15 beers) and large (20 beers) list depending on what a restaurant is wanting to offer. I’m sure this post will generate a bit of discussion and controversy, but I welcome it. Feel free to give your 2 cents and I’ll be more than happy to explain my rationale for each choice.

Small

  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Schlafly Pale Ale
  • New Belgium Fat Tire
  • O’Dells 90 Schilling
  • Boulevard Bully Porter
  • Bell’s Two Hearted or O’Fallon 5 Day IPA
  • Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
  • Blue Moon or Hoegaarden
  • Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

A few thoughts on the Small list. First of all, you’ll notice I picked some of the old money making standbys. We all need to keep in mind that a restaurant is in the business of making money. A lot of people enjoy some of these beers and therefore a restaurant needs to carry some of them to retain business. One of the problems with a list this small is that you’re left lacking things like a dark clean lager or a brown ale. If I were to drop one beer, it would either be the Porter or Stout. I think you need a dark rich beer to pair with dessert, but you may not need two different choices. Removing one of those would open it up to a brown ale like Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale.

One of the main things people may say is, “Why no Guinness?” My rationale for that is that Guinness is pretty fricken expensive (especially draught) and cost is always a factor for restaurants. I personally think you can accomplish the same thing with a Russian Imperial Stout that may be a bit cheaper in the long run. See the rest of the lists after the jump.

Medium

  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Schlafly Pale Ale
  • New Belgium Fat Tire
  • O’Dells 90 Schilling
  • Boulevard Bully Porter
  • Bell’s Two Hearted or O’Fallon 5 Day IPA
  • Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
  • Blue Moon or Hoegaarden
  • Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
  • Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
  • Schneider Weisse Hefeweizen
  • St. Bernadus Abt 12 or Ommegang Three Philosophers
  • Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale
  • Anchor Steam Ale

So now we see the emergence of some German styles as well as a couple of distinct American styles. I’ll be completely honest when I say I’m not a fan of lagers. Don’t get me wrong, an amazing lager is really a work of art, but on the whole I prefer the fruitiness of an ale over the cleanness of a lager. The other thing to keep in mind is that I think it’s important that if you’re going to carry a limited number of beers, it’s imperative to have a number of different styles. Why carry two light lagers or two IPAs if you’re only going to have 15 beers? Give your consumers an opportunity to pair their meals with a number of different styles of beer.

Large

  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Schlafly Pale Ale
  • New Belgium Fat Tire
  • O’Dells 90 Schilling
  • Boulevard Bully Porter
  • Bell’s Two Hearted or O’Fallon 5 Day IPA
  • Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
  • Blue Moon or Hoegaarden
  • Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
  • Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
  • Schneider Weisse Hefeweizen
  • St. Bernadus Abt 12 or Ommegang Three Philosophers
  • Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale
  • Anchor Steam Ale
  • Goose Island 312
  • Schlafly or O’Fallon Seasonal
  • Unibroue Éphémère (Apple)
  • Guinness
  • Lindemans Framboise

For whatever reason, the list got a bit more difficult as it got larger. You could really start rounding out the list with a lot of different styles. A Czech Pils, an English Bitter, a Belgian Dubbel would all make excellent choices. One of my biggest personal fights is adding Lindemans Framboise to the list. I’d personally like to see a more traditional lambic, but I don’t think most people are ready for it. The addition of Goose Island 312 could have probably been a bit sooner, I think it’s another of the those beers that will pair really well with a number of dishes.

So what say you? If you walked into a relatively upscale restaurant and this was one of the three beer lists, would you be happy? Is there something I missed, something I should have added?