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Interesting interview in the New York Times with Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery, who says that "beer and wine are both beverages meant to be served with food. And good beer, real beer, often offers things that most wine does not, like carbonation and caramelized and roasted flavors — aspects that sometimes make beer the preferable choice.

"And the most wonderful thing about beer is that it has that ability to `reset' your palate. Take cassoulet, for example: Rustic southern French reds are good, but French beer is a much better choice. Cassoulet can be like cement, but beer busts it up and makes it seem so much lighter."

The broader point – which is worth making for those of us who don’t consume cassoulet on a regular basis – is that the relationship between beer and food has largely been ignored as wine has become more celebrated for its intricacies. Retailers that invest much in their wine departments, offering tastings and a high level of education and expertise, often revert to form in their beer departments, focusing more on stacking it high and deep and selling it cheap.
KC's View:
The point that Oliver misses is that the gourmet beer train already has left the station and, to some extent, been derailed. Gone are many of the brewpubs around the country that were all the rage several years ago, dismissed as a fad as opposed to a serious trend. In many cases, we suspect, that’s because they were less focused on the quality of the beer and food than they should been.

Still, the general observation is a legitimate one. By reducing a category that can be celebrated for its intricacies to one that is focused on price and simplicity is to miss an opportunity to get consumers to learn, to trade up, to buy more and better product. Which probably is a mistake.