Beer not only often sells better in wine country, but operators also are free to promote it with a wider range of foods thanks to a culture of openmindedness already in place from wine drinkers. Since customers already are very familiar with pairing wine and food, that makes introducing the same concept with beer much easier. Offering a few dessert beers, for example, is an easy way to serve both something different and also provide a tasty alternative to wine. Having a raspberry lambic with chocolate cake or a porter float made by pouring a porter over vanilla ice cream may entice customers to try something new.
Having a discerning palate for wine seems to make people open to many new experiences, whether with artisanal bread, cheese or craft beer. Offering an appetizer of artisanal cheese and bread made around the corner paired with a local brew plays on the growing sentiments of locavores. The same customers who have come for the wine are likely to be interested in other local foods as well. People who enjoy any one of those will be more open to the rest, offering easy opportunities for the restaurant willing to source at least some of its food and beverages locally.
Promiently displaying beer as Rob Vallance does, the Portland, Ore.-based district brewing manager for McMenamins, which operates 46 hotels, restaurants and brewpubs in Oregon and Washington, can also lead to food pairing synergies. As will sometimes offering large-bottle formats that can segue into dessert.