Beer vs. Wine – A Small Triumph at Fogo De Chao
This past weekend, I finally made the journey to a Brazilian Churrascaria called Fogo De Chao. I have heard legendary stories of all you can eat prime cuts of meat sliced off of a sword onto your plate in an authentic environment. It was Jonny Fullpint’s wedding anniversary, and a damn fine excuse to finally plunk down some coin for this fancy, gluttonous outing.
The one thing I anticipated was beer not being well represented at this place, as with most fine dining establishments. You know, that nasty stuff in the can that hillbillies drink? Well I thought I’d try my luck, and call in advance and make a plea with Fogo De Chao’s management to see if I could bring “fine bottles of ale.”
With my first call, I got one of the employees. I explained that I was going to go there for a special occasion, and our beverage of choice was ale. I didn’t want to use the word beer, just to help my cause in persuading them to say yes. I told her we didn’t have a cooler of Budweiser, and we had no intentions of setting up a beer pong table. We wanted to have these fine beverages, which were as good if not better than wine for our special night. The nice lady told me they don’t have any provision for beer in their wine policy, she would ask management, and call me back. To my surprise I got a call back from the manager Vitor, and told me that while this is not in their policy, that they would gladly make an exception. Vitor went on to explain he was aware of the significance of a nice bottle of ale and that it is a very new concept for many eating establishments who only know beer as fizzy yellow stuff. He did mention that we would be subject to the $25 corkage fee that a guest bringing wine would be subject to. I kindly thanked Vitor, and proceeded to select our lineup of beer for the evening.
At that point, I was still a bit leery for two reasons. I had never gone to such a fancy, intense place to get my feedbag on, and I had also wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass our group by going overboard with bringing beer into a place that has never seen the bombers and champagne bottles of beer. I decided to bring three bottles, at the request of Jonny Fullpint. I brought Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Jon’s wife’s all time favorite, The Bruery White Oak, a 15% wheat wine, and Karl Strauss 21st Anniversary Ale, brewed with Zinfandel grapes.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted with amazing customer service. We were brought oversized wine glasses for wine and they brought chilled chalices for us beer drinkers. I can’t speak for other beer drinkers, but I enjoy the oversized wine glass for beer as well, so I can enjoy the aroma, and let the body open up a bit. That confused our servers at first, but they got the point after our first glass.
Then came the eating event. At Fogo De Chao, you are given a cardboard coaster. One side is green and one side is red. You play a game of red light green light for when you want to eat. When we all first flipped our cards to the green side, we were instantly bombarded with 5 chefs with swords filled with prime meats. Perfectly grilled Filet Mignon, Rib Eye, Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Lamb Chops, hand made sausages and more were all inches from our face. We were collectively shocked as we were continually offered more meaty goodness. Because this was our first trip, we didn’t realize that as soon as you have gotten a few nice slices of meat, you need to flip your card back over to red, otherwise you will be continually presented with more chefs, more swords and more meat. One of the nice servers came over and apologized that we seemed way overwhelmed. She explained to us that each sword wielding server was actually the chef responsible for the delicious meat, and they were competing for our plates and stomachs. We completely understood, and slowed down the pace a bit.
The beer went very well with the meat, and I am very glad an exception was made for the founding fathers of TheFullPint.com . Before leaving, I thanked Vitor again for understanding the importance of treating our bottles of beer equal to bottles of wine. They certainly didn’t have to, as much education is needed in the culinary world as to what beer has transformed into over the past few years. While it did take a few phone calls and a bit of persuasion, I would chalk this up as a small victory in the on going Beer vs. Wine saga. I encourage all of you to call ahead of your dining reservation, and get dialogue going about beer. At the very least, it will create a level of awareness that wasn’t there before.