Friday, April 08, 2016

The beer list at Doc's Cantina in Louisville.

Photo credit: WDRB TV.

Doc's Cantina has opened in the former Tumbleweed on the riverfront in Louisville. The drinks list is here. It's obvious that a great deal of thought was put into the assemblage of wine, bourbon, mezcal, rum, tequila and other libations.

My soapbox, please.

It is my recurring observation that eateries tend to have an absolutely firm idea of how their cuisine, wine and spirits mesh, but most beer lists I see are without any organizing principle at all. I look at the hundreds of  available options and note the opportunity to riff on numerous styles and stylistic variations, rather than the crazy quilt revolving door that sadly has become the norm.

Also, commitments to localism/regionalism in sourcing seldom extend past the swinging doors to the kitchen, with notable exceptions like the Crescent Hill Craft House. This probably addresses a fundamental contradiction on the part of consumers, for while they increasingly want to know that the food comes from down the block, they insist against all available evidence that the quality of local beer cannot match what is brewed a couple thousand miles away.

Looking at the Doc's Cantina draft list ... well, Ritterguts is a Shelton Brothers import from Germany. Ballast Point sold out to Constellation. Moortgat has an ownership stake in Boulevard. Bud Light and the two Mexican lagers are multinational-owned.

Country Boy is independent and regional.

Ritterguts Gose 16 oz
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin 16 oz
Country Boy Nacho Bait 16 oz or 22 oz
Boulevard 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat 16 oz or 22 oz
Bud Light 16 oz or 22 oz
Negra Modelo 16 oz or 22 oz
Pacifico Clara 16 oz or 22oz

It looks like canned beer only, no bottles at Doc's Cantina. CAN-tina. Get it?


Rhinegeist Semi Dry Cider 12 oz
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez 12 oz
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 12 oz
Steigl Grapefruit Radler 16 oz
Stella Artois 16 oz
Tecate 12 oz
Victoria Lager 12 oz
West 6th Amber Ale 12 oz
West 6th Cocoa Porter 12 oz
West 6th Lemongrass Wheat 12 oz
Wild Ginger Beer 12 oz
Wittekerke Witte 12 oz
Against the Grain Brown Note 16 oz
Founders All Day IPA 12 oz
Coors Light 16 oz
Corona Extra 12 oz
Corona Light 12 oz
Country Boy Cougar Bait Blonde 12 oz
Bell's Two Hearted IPA 16 oz
Boulevard Ginger Lemon Radler 12 oz
Dos Equis Especial Lager 12 oz
Bud Light 16 oz
Budweiser 16 oz
Evin Twin Bikini Beer IPA 12 oz
Miller Lite 16 oz
Modelo Especial 12 oz
New Belgium Fat Tire 16 oz
Pabst Blue Ribbon 16 oz
Pilsner Urquell 16 oz

Of course, whenever the food is derived from Mexican, we're doomed to a thematic array of taste-alike Mexican lagers. If the other organizational conceit is canned beer only, choice is vastly reduced even with the expanded range of beers in cans.

There are 28 beers in cans (and one cider), of which 14 (half) are not independently owned. 5 of 28 are local/regional. Without going into excruciating detail, 18 of 36 (50%) of the products on this list are variants of golden lager or golden ale.

As a side note, there's one beer style missing from both draft and canned lists that I guarantee would wonderfully accompany the food at Doc's Cantina.

That's German-style Hefeweizen.

My comments aren't intended as a slight against Doc's Cantina. There are a number of good beers on this card. It's just that to my increasingly jaundiced eye, too many of them are too much alike, with the result that opportunities for creativity are missed. I hate to see it.

Even now, in a time of unparalleled choice, it seems to me that better beer still is slighted when compared to wine and spirits. There is a mode of thinking about wine and spirits that isn't applied to beer.

Then again, I just might be completely full of it, baying at the moon. Could this be why I'm drinking more gin than beer?


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