"I like food" one of the phrases often said by a quiet and unassuming employee we once had here. God bless him, Joel Stacey was killed in a tragic cycling accident in 2007. I remember his love of food and the positive contribution to our place with great joy. Perhaps you had to be there but the almost childish statement he made about any reference to the intake of solid calorific substances was extremely endearing.
I like food very much too, probably equal to beer. When I say food I mean good home made stuff, not the belly fillers that make up the vast majority of the fuel people use to keep their metabolism going. It perhaps started with making solid, baked fermented wheat products, similar to beer but with a shorter production cycle and often referred to as bread. This first happened, probably before I can remember, in my Grandmother's kitchen.
If I had to choose between never having good beer again or never having good food again the choice would be very tough indeed.
So why do I want to talk about food on my beer blog? The reason is simple, it's because food has now become far more important to most on trade outlets that do sell beer than the beer itself. Until the beer, and more importantly real ale industry come right out and admit this wholeheartedly, then we are going to have problems.
"We know that" you say. "We accept that pubs have to do food" you say. But you do not embrace it. If every pub served the same beer and had the same interior and style then there would be no reason to look for other pubs.
Food is the reason most people visit pubs. Most people look for something different these days. If all there was on the menu was scampi, gammon or fish and chips most of us would get fed up.
So why is there this inverted snobbery surrounding the so called gastro pub? It may be an unfortunate phrase, there are some terrible examples for sure, but why is the concept a bad one? If it's a pub and serves good beer and allows you to drink beer then it's good.
I accept that there is an interesting situation where some places make it difficult to have drinks only, due to the volume of food the establishment serves, but this only goes to show how successful this style of place is.
If we wish pubs to survive we have to accept that some will have to find new markets. The inverted snobbery of some commentators in the beer market are damaging the ability of the pub market to move forward into this century.
Moreover, it is with great conviction that I believe the real ale industry is missing out on the ability to move into the lucrative market of fine dining. Many good chefs are now bestowing the virtues of specialist beers. If we keep knocking the restaurant trade by poo pooing all "gastro" operations we are missing a great opportunity. I think we should start campaigning to get cask ale into restaurants rather than saying that restaurants are bad for the pub and beer industry.
So, please, don't criticise a place because the food is too fancy for you. Move forward. You don't have to like more up to date cuisine if your tastes or wallet don't allow, but remember that pubs won't survive if they all have to be the same.