People have always instinctively eaten with the seasons, even before these days of hyperlocal diets. Our bodies simply crave different foods in different weather: salads and lighter fare when the mercury soars, stews and other comforting dishes in the depths of winter.
Drinks, on the other hand, have until recently remained relatively immune to seasonality. Sure, we might enjoy a gin and tonic more in July, or prefer a cabernet sauvignon to a chilled pinot grigio in December, but for the most part, we North Americans haven’t been great at imbibing with the seasons.
That is starting to change, however, as restaurants and bars begin to see the value in altering their drink menus according to the weather. At Brouwer’s Cafe in Seattle, for example, co-owner Matt Bonney makes sizable adjustments to his beer list once the weather turns.
“Higher-alcohol beers are definitely more popular the colder it gets,” Bonney said.
His response is to stock greater numbers of big beer styles like imperial stouts, Belgian grand crus, and extra-strong India pale ales. For him, such beers are not only comforting in the sometimes-miserable Pacific Northwest weather, but also logical accompaniments to the bar’s food menu.
“We tend to add richer, starchier dishes in winter,” he said. “People who are going to order things like our waterzooi or carbonade flamande are usually going to want a heavier beer to drink alongside. Most times, my employees are suggesting those bigger beer styles simply because they complement the dishes so well.”