This was originally mentioned in a Beer Advocate thread, started by Will C. of Virginia, and then spread out via Twitter as a worthy topic by Todd and Jason. I found it interesting, as well, as it concerns one of the national restaurant chains attempts to promote beer to their customers. The chain is Red Lobster, a seafood restaurant I haven’t eaten at since maybe the early 1980s, and even then only once or twice. I’m not a big chain restaurant patron, less so when it’s seafood, which I’m also not a great fan of.
But I have to at least give kudos to Red Lobster for trying to educate their customers about beer. Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but my sense is that regular Red Lobster customers are generally not hardcore beer geeks. Most of the people I know who love great beer, are at least somewhat passionate about the food they eat, too. So that suggests that the average Red Lobster patron could probably use a little beer edumacation. So they’ve set up an interactive Beer Tasting Guide showing each of the main year-round beers they carry on a chart with beer color on one axis and “flavor” on the other. When you move you mouse over each of the beers, a window pops up with additional information about that beer. It’s one of the better uses of Flash technology I’ve see involving beer.
The downside, of course, is that of the seventeen beers on the chart, only the five Samuel Adams beers, and possibly the Guinness (depending on which one it is) are worth ordering, at least to my taste. The biggest blunder, though, is equating flavor with IBUs as the Y-axis seems to suggest. Obviously, they’re not remotely the same thing, and none of the beers on the list could really be considered hoppy by any stretch. There would obviously be numerical differences between the beers, but from a taste point of view, not so much. They also seem to suggest all dark beers are malty and light beers are also “crisp,” which is likewise not exactly true, at least not all the time.
Red Lobster did, however, buy the new proprietary Samuel Adams beer glass and put the Red Lobster logo on them for all their restaurants, which is a plus. And according to their beer page, they have some regional beers in select areas, though those choices, too, are nothing out of the ordinary. Still, this is the sort of thing that’s to be encouraged, I think. I’m not a great fan of misinformation — of which there is certainly some here — but it’s a start. Perhaps it will at least inspire Red Lobster’s customers to ask more questions, a move which could ultimately lead them to better beer.