Speaking at The British Guild of Beer Writers' ‘Beer Meets Food’ seminar in Bristol, Jane Peyton described the pint glass as “the worst thing to happen” to beer and food pairing, and called on pubs to stock a greater range of styles of beer.
“We've got over 55,000 pubs in this country and I really struggle to think of more than 10 pubs that are doing beer and food matching really well,” she said. “We have a real opportunity here but there are so many obstacles.
“It's also about the perception that beer is a low-value drink. We easily pay £20 for a really mundane mass-produced bottle of wine that is of quite poor quality but people will kick off about paying the equivalent for beer.”
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She continued: “Beer has this sort of everyday drink status and people don't understand that it can work with food. The worst thing that happened in this country was the pint glass – it has given rise to the idea that beer is all about quantity. People have got so used to drinking in humongous quantities, which is not good for dining.”
Peyton praised breweries such as Wild Beer Co for “showing what beer and food can do” but bemoaned the reputation of beer as “being a bit common”.
“Because beer has this reputation of being associated with casual dining, it's very rare to see it in fine dining,” she said. “The places doing food and beer pairing well are places like Bundobust in Leeds; vibrant Indian food in a casual-dining setting.
"Venues are embarrassed, and they don't have the confidence to put beer on the dining table with food, because it has this perception as being a bit common. But it's not.”
Offer a range of styles
She added: “Beer and food has to be together because it is just the best thing, and we need to educate people," she continued. "We need ambassadors to fly the flag; it's not enough to have a pickled egg and a pint of bitter.”
On the subject of what more pubs could do to encourage food and beer pairing, Peyton said: “You go to pubs and they just don't have enough of a range of beer. They may have the range of brands of beer – seven different types of bitter – and pair them with bangers and mash and a burger. That is not a choice.
“We are not going to get anywhere unless we offer people a range of styles of beer.”