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Letter to a Restaurant

Posted by on June 28, 2011

After reading @Ale_of_a_time recent blog post “Thoughts on beer in Melbourne Restaurants” it got me thinking about something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.

And that is open a dialogue with a restaurant to try and determine why thought and effort is put in to wine, but beer is treated like something they add to the menu to keep the bogans happy.

There is no point, obviously, in asking someone like Josie Bones.. There is passion about beer there, so I thought I would start with a restaurant that actually has a larger then average beer list, but which is full of lagers.

So I’ve decided to email the Dandenong Pavilion.

Here is the E-mail I have sent them:

As semi regular customers of Dandenong Pavilion I was hoping if I could ask you, or the management team, at Dandenong Pavilion a few questions in regards to your selection of beers.

As  an avid beer drinker, I find the majority of restaurants to have a very very disappointing selection of beers. While on the other hand,  many take the time and effort to put together a decent selection of wines, many even going to the effort to ensure those wines are local.

What I am trying to understand, is why no thought or effort is put in to the selection of beer?

To be fair, Dandy Pav does have a slightly better then average selection of beers, in my “beerview” I gave you guys a 3/5 (

In Dandenong itself, there are 3 breweries that I can think of, off the top of my head.

You have Matilda Bay, which are owned by the Fosters group. Artic Fox which is a small micro brewery and a micro brewery located at the Chifely Hotel. There are a large number of micros located in Victoria itself, all producing a variety of quality beers.

To dissect your menu slightly.

You have 3 lagers and 1 Ale on Tap

13 Lagers and 1 Ale in bottles.

Out of those 18 beers, there is only really one beer that I would consider “craft”, and that is the Knappstein.

Is there a reason why there is such a large selection of lagers on the menu? Is there a lack of understanding of the different styles/flavour of beer?

I would appreciate if you could take the time to respond to my email. I do intend to post the initial email to my blog, however if you would prefer that your response is not given in full then I am happy to omit some, or all of it, from public view.

It is about understanding the reasoning behind the choice of beers, rather then being critical of any one restaurant.

To give you background on myself, I’m not affiliated with any brewery, as much as I’d like to be. I am not part of any organisation or industry body.

Beer is my hobby. I’ve had over 700 different beers and continue to try more and more beers. I actually work in IT for the Victorian Government.

If I get a reply that they chose to allow to be shared, I will add the reply below.  Hopefully with more understanding of why resturants continue to ignore good beer, we as a beer community can better formulate a response.

3 Responses to Letter to a Restaurant

  1. DiggeR

    Nice work, been meaning to wander around locally and chat to people here as well (more in regards to the BYO thing).

  2. n00bert

    Nicely done!

  3. Prof Pilsner

    Good work! As a restaurant manager (The Courthouse Restaurant, Berwick) with around 20 years experience I have seen the gradual change in attitudes to beer while, at the same time, some things never change. As you point out, plenty beers but mostly lagers. This is mostly due to ignorance and laziness where the beer buyer either picks standard offerings from an order sheet or they really don’t know the difference between lagers and ales.

    Letters like this are great because they begin the discussion. Restaurants are often reluctant to give too much space on the drinks list to beers for a few different reasons which (without giving a shameless plug!) will be disected on a coming episode of Radio Brews News.

    One major point is this – most punters don’t know what a bottle of Chateau de Armpit is worth in the shops so they will gladly pay 100% – 200% mark up. Most punters DO know that a Crown Lager is worth around 2 or 3 bucks (in a case buy) and will pay 7 bucks at the table. Being asked to pay $12 for a big hoppy APA is sen by many as a rip off even if that beer cost the restaurant $4 – $5 each.

    I hope others take up the challenge to approach their local favourite restaurant and demand a fair go for good beer drinkers!

    Pete Mitcham
    (Prof Pilsner)
    Beer Blokes & Australian Brews News

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