Friday, March 02, 2007

Extreme Belgian: Swapping Rocheforts.

As of tonight, Chef Dave Clancy reports a dozen seats available for our Extreme Belgian Beer Dinner at the Bistro New Albany on Monday evening, March 5.

Examine the bill of fare here, and be aware that I’ve been forced to make one change in the beer list.

Rochefort 10 – one of my all-time faves – is an unfortunate "scratch," as my Indiana wholesaler and dinner co-sponsor World Class Beverages hasn't received any for quite some weeks, and in fact has recently been informed that "maybe" 10-15 cases (12 to a pack) are coming for the entire state of Indiana to last the next three months.

I'll be substituting the same brewery's 8, which is the second best beer at a brewery that makes one of the best beers (the absent 10) in the world. Note that there’s no shortage of the 8. However, if it ever approaches the top of the charts at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, all bets are off.

Given the demand that such notoriety generates for beers that are produced at such small quantity levels, it’s a shame that with occasional laudable exceptions (see: Three Floyds), beer and wine operate under very different consumer value systems, i.e., it is far more difficult for a beer producer to permit the market to adjust pricing, and be willing to pay the piper, than for a wine producer.

Are you seeking a worldwide top-ten wine selection? The bottle might cost hundreds of dollars, and wine drinkers and collectors are quite accustomed to paying for the quality accrued.

Are you looking for Westvleteren 12, the savory Belgian Trappist ale from West Flanders, which currently is at or near the top of the on-line rating? It’s still only a few Euros in Belgium – if you can get it.

Obviously, Trappist brewers aren’t supposed to be in it for the money, but the analogy holds. By and large, the perception of beer’s value for both brewer and consumer is that even the best in the world should still be priced like … well, like beer, as opposed to wine.

Digressions aside, I hope to see many readers at Monday’s dinner. Just don’t mention King Leopold, and you should be okay.

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