In today’s North Coast Journal, a weekly alernative rag for Humboldt County, California, in the food section called Talk of the Table, Joseph Byrd has an article titled Texas Chili. The food information looks sound enough, but I’m no expert on chili. He begins by detailing what chili is, where it originated (San Antonio, according to the article), and begins going through detailed instructions on how to make it, all well and good. However, mid-way through his piece he writes the following:
The meat is put into a marinade of dark bitter stout overnight. There is a dark beer called “Pete’s Wicked Ale” which I find nasty and undrinkable, but it’s perfect for this purpose.
Now Pete’s Wicked Ale began its life as an American Brown Ale. Now that the original Pete has left for more chocolatey pastures, my memory is that under Gambrinus these days it more resembles an amber ale. And it’s ironic that Pete’s Wicked Ale today is brewed in San Antonio, Texas, the home of chili. But either way, it’s hardly a stout, and frankly I have a hard time calling it a dark beer. But I suppose if industral light lager is your standard — which is my guess — (with something like 1 lovibond) then I suppose Pete’s Wicked Ale is at least much darker.
I can certainly imagine it would make a fine marinade — after all, many beers do — but to describe the beer as “nasty and undrinkable” seems downright pernicious, and not just to the beer but also to the author’s own reputation. I say that because such a description shows a certain ignorance for the subject matter and calls into question his qualifications overall, in my opinion. It’s one thing to dislike a particular beer — I dislike plenty — but to label it “undrinkable” and confuse it with a stout shows a certain lack of sophistication regarding his beer knowledge. And it begs the question why such an aside was even necessary? What was the purpose of offering how distasteful the author found the beer? It doesn’t really add anything to the story, unless he wanted to be sure none of his readers might mistake his endorsement of the beer as a marinade for actually liking to drink it, too.
At first, I thought the story originated in Texas, before later realizing he’s right here in California, just a short drive up the coast from me. If he’d been a Texas native, I might more easily forgive his apparent lack of beer savvy, but here in California as a food writer it’s an unpardonable sin.