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February 2011

A Craft Beer Cookbook?

I was walking home today, sorting out my new blog post in my head and quite frankly, it wasn’t working. So I gave up and started thinking about dinner – and what beer from my stash I was going to have with it. I began wishing, once again, that there was a decent New Zealand beer-matching cookbook. In fact, I wish this every time I go to a book store and am confronted with oodles of wine-and-food cookbooks. Yes, we have the Monteiths and the Speights books, but what should I cook to go with a hearty stout or a hoppy IPA?*

Then it hit me – we should just make our own cookbook. I could see it in my imagination immediately – nothing too large or overly fancy, but with a range of matches that covered starters, mains and deserts and a wide selection of beer styles. It’d have a few choice illustrations, but it’d be a proper cookbook, rather than a coffee table book. Brewers, home brewers and beer geeks from around the country could submit their favourite recipes. It’d be a cookbook by the beer-lover, for the beer-lover.

Right about then reality began to catch-up with me and starting asking practical questions. Did I really have access to the people and resources I would need? I can proof, typeset and write the various bits and pieces needed and I could probably talk the art girl at work into doing the design, but what about the other people? I’d need another two recipe testers** and volunteers to taste the resulting food-beer match; possibly a photographer; people to send in recipes; and most importantly, people willing to buy the resulting cookbook. I’d need capital to self-publish and some way of distributing. I’d have to balance the range of recipes without stepping on anybody’s toes or infringing on copyright. The challenges began to mount up.

But it would be such an awesome way to publicise New Zealand craft beer, to improve beer’s image from ‘something the lads scull back’ to something that can (and should) be incorporated into a wider social scene. That beer shouldn’t just be drunk with a barbecue, but with a cheese platter, bountiful roast or a chocolaty desert. That you don’t have to drink wine with a nice dinner.

So now I’m left pondering the pros and cons. Would it be worth the challenge? Or should I consign it to the basket of cool ideas that just wouldn’t work in the real world?

* I did come home and look of the Mighty Ape and Fishpond websites and there are a few overseas ones available, but only the Speights from New Zealand.
**All the best recipe books are triple tested.

Beer and Weddings

When I’m not garbed in my Rosalind Aymes super hero attire, I am an editorial assistant at a bridal magazine. In our upcoming issue, we have an article on serving beverages at wedding receptions. Buried in two pages of wine information is a measly three sentences on beer, which boils down to ‘you better get some beers for the lads’. When proofing the article I added in a couple more sentences about seasonality (seasonality’s very popular in wedding writing), very simple stuff. Both sentences were taken out, as we don’t want to encourage ‘that sort of thing’.

I may have (quietly) got my rage on at this point – the old-fashioned view that beer-drinkers are simply men who quaff large amounts of booze irritates me beyond belief and is really a self-perpetuating problem. I didn’t really want to be part of that.

When I had calmed down a bit, I realised my anger was rather pointless. Wedding magazines don’t lead trends – they follow them. While the magazine may not be talking about decent beer, I can happily report a growing trend of craft beers at real weddings. A friend of mine will be the best man at a wedding in March that will be serving Renaissance beers. He offered to take me as his date but unfortunately I’ll bridesmaid at another wedding, which, while they won’t be serving craft beers at their reception, there is a post-wedding event the next day at the Moutere Inn.

Good beer is even stealthily invading our offices through real weddings; one of the entries for the Bride and Groom of the Year contained a wedding where the groom served several different styles of his home brew on tap at the reception.  Now he’s got my vote for Groom of the Year.

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