In a town not far from me there is a rather ridiculous restaurant whose windows are not-all-that-discreetly etched with what the menu has to offer: Steak ... Champagne ... Oysters ... Seafood. Get the picture? You come here to show off how much money you've got.
It's the kind of place I suspect must be the target market for Inedit. That's the "innovative" *cough* beer made by Barcelona brewery Damm which has as its main selling point its association with celebrated food technologist Ferran Adrià.
It's being pushed as a beer to go with food, innovative and unique, as if people hadn't been consuming beer with food for thousands of years. The marketing concept has hence, reasonably enough, already been roundly trashed on the beer blogs over a year ago – see here and here and here.
But now the apparently imminent launch in the UK gives the Guardian's commissioning editors an excuse to indulge their schoolgirlish crush on Adrià once more, and we get this article the other day from Melissa Cole. I appreciate that journalists don't always get to write the precise article they would like to. But that's not going to stop me saying articles like this are bad for beer. This piece diminishes Melissa's reputation, and the Grauniad's, and Ferran Adrià's for that matter, and gives credibility to a product that's created with unsustainable hype on a fraudulent premise.
Essentially, the marketers behind it appear to believe that to make beer as prestigious (in the minds of snobs) as wine, you spend long years educating consumers about beer and you give talented brewers free rein to produce a truly outstanding beer. No, only joking. What you do is put a mediocre beer in a fancy bottle and jack up the price.
So we get the gimmicky black bottle, which Melissa calls elegant and minimalist and I call tacky and 1983-ish; the champagne-aping ice-bucket nonsense, the ridiculous price-tag, all suggesting that the point of this beer is to sell it to cash-rich, clue-poor consumers.
Only the ignorant would order this beer in a restaurant in preference to the other splendid beers that go well with food; only the ignorant would stock it in a restaurant, and I don't want to go to a restaurant run by the ignorant.
Fundamentally, I don't believe such a product deserves any coverage, except that ridiculing it, and it actually makes me quite angry. Even angrier than having to repeat the same points that Beer Nut and Pivní Filosof have already made a year ago.
If you were a restaurateur with a serious reputation and the boss of a large poultry processor approached you with a new range of frozen turkey twizzlers endorsed by a celebrity chef, and suggested that you could flog them to punters for four times the usual price, you'd tell him to fuck off, because you'd have more respect for food, for your customers, for your reputation and for yourself as a human being.
Why should we accept the same trash where the product is a, by all accounts, average-to-fair beer where the bottle is more important than the contents?
Isn't this insulting to the chefs and restaurateurs who do understand beer, and have made an effort to create a decent beer list to complement their menus? Shouldn't we be writing about them instead of buying into marketing-agency hype?