TGI Friday’s FTW!

I’ll admit I like dining at TGi Friday’s.  I love their tostado nachos and they make a good burger.  And now I like them even better, as Denver’s Westword reports that TGI Friday’s is testing a beer pairing menu in their South Aurora, Colorado location featuring a handful of selections from New Belgium Brewing.

Now, I know Don has said unkind things about New Belgium in the past, but this is great news for folks who love good beer.  A national chain is trying to appeal to beer geeks, and more importantly, they are introducing the everyday beer drinker to the wonders of craft beer.  Sure it might be Fat Tire paired with Ahi Tuna and Avocado Crisps, but it’s a start, right?

Perhaps this is a beginning of a trend where national restaurant chains see an opportunity to draw in customers with better beer than their rivals, so they start offering stuff other than the BMC macro crap we are saddled with now.  Let’s hope that if this happens,  the craft beers offered are from local and regional breweries.  Bringing good beer to the masses while supporting the local brewing scene sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

Now I just need Houlihan’s (which I adore, so sue me) to start carrying Troeg’s Flying Mouflan or Captain Lawrence IPA on tap.  I’d be there every night!


NOTE: Updated to reflect the fact that this is happening in one, not six locations.  Alex gets a gold star for reading comprehension!




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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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33 Comments on “TGI Friday’s FTW!”

  1. December 15, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Would be great if they start doing it around here for sure! It’s not the best atmosphere for food/wine pairings but beer/food is a no-brainer. And BTW, Houlihan’s wings are awsome!

    • December 15, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      It would be awesome – I bet it’ll happen, too, as beer could be the new “newness” that these guys are always trying to create. And I’ve never had the wings at Houlihans, but that’ll change soon!

  2. 1Time4got
    December 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Cheers to TGI Friday’s for doing the right thing and offering beer geeks a decent beverage with their dining experience. I’m sure this will be a huge success as a Fat Tire and burger make a great lunch. Hopefully other restaurants will take note and start aiding in the effort to get all Americans beyond the BMC macro brew that attempt to pass off as beer.

    • December 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

      I’d happily enjoy a Fat Tire over a macro any day, and a Ranger IPA would be even better!

  3. Alex
    December 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    It looks like this is happening at only one location, not six. The five other locations are test sites for food items. [Nitpickdouchicus]

    Still, this could be a good start. New Belgium has won me back in the last year. Most of their regular offerings are still very middle-of-the-road or “gateway” beers, with the exception of their Ranger IPA, which is an excellent “stretch” beer (I’ve been reading your old posts). Their Lips of Faith series of beers have been boundary-pushing and very, very solid.

    I doubt that TGI Friday’s would want anything to do with La Folie or Belgo IPA, however. It’ll probably be more Fat Tire or Sunshine Wheat paired with their dressed-up fast food. And I think that’s fine. Fat Tire has helped a lot of BMC drinkers see the light, which is great.

    • December 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

      Thanks for catching that Alex. I updated the post to reflect the fact that I’m a moron who can’t read.

      And your point about Fat Tire being a gateway beer is an important one, because having a beer like that at a place like TGI Friday’s could lead to many conversions indeed. It’s the right beer at the right place to move the cause of good beer ahead in America.

  4. December 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I’d go Bud over Fat Tire, especially on price points. Here, they’re distributed by the same people, so Fat Tire is everywhere for the masses to enjoy.

    I poured my last one down the sink.

    • December 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

      I’ve poured a New Belgium down the sink, too. It was a La Folie – it tasted like stomach lining.

      • December 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

        You a fan of sours in general?

        • December 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

          It’s been well-documented here that I struggle with sours. If they have some sweetness, I’m okay, but otherwise it’s a gag-fest. My outer limit seems to be Cantillion Rose De Gambrinus, which I’ve both loved and loathed depending on when I drank it.

      • December 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

        I can’t read or write.

        • December 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

          Well then your comment is quite an accomplishment!

  5. Don
    December 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    I would more call this a victory for New Belgium than it is for TGI Fridays. They have an opportunity for their crappy beers to be carried by a national chain! This is a great step to becoming a macro! Next thing you know they will be making boob jokes in their adds and making men look stupid. That said I had their collaborationwith Allagash brew yesterday on tap, and it was the first beer that had New Belgium on the label that I actually enjoyed. And guys if you like Ranger IPA, you should just go to the grocery story and get a container of grapefruit juice. Same difference!

    • December 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

      I guess you’re a pint’s-half-empty kinda guy, Don…

      • December 15, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

        I gotta agree with the empty portion of Don’s pint glass.

        The Ranger is decent, if a little grassy. For a greyhoundish beer, go for Bell’s Two-Hearted. I actually just had two glasses of grapefruit juice. Love the stuff, but never thought a beer could get close to that other than Two-Hearted. And it’s a great beer.

        • December 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

          I’m guessing “autocorrect” is responsible for “greyhoundish”

          And I love Two Hearted!

        • Don
          December 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

          Jim, how in the HELL can you have a drinking blog? A Greyhound is a drink mixed with Grapefruit Juice and Vodka! Duh…

        • December 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

          Oh. Good thing we’re not the Citrus and Stoli Brothers. I’d be embarrassed.

      • December 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

        Wine and martini sisters.

        • December 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

          Same difference I think. 🙂

    • Alex
      December 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

      Kudos to you for trying the Allagash collaboration despite the “New Belgium” on the tap handle. I doubt I would give another chance to a brewery I hated as much as you seem to despise NB. The worst I can say about their run of the mill beers is that they are uninteresting. A beer has to be truly repellent to merit a drain pour from me.

      I do think they are starting to come around, however, and are still miles away from being a macro-brewery. They have a great corporate and environmental philosophy and treat their employees very well. Their brewery is also by far the nicest facility I’ve ever seen. I’m encouraged by their move into more experimental beers and hope that that trend continues. Their next door neighbors, Odell, still make vastly superior beer, but I think NB is gradually closing the gap.

      [pint half-full kind of guy]

      • December 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

        Don’t you feel like a dick now, Don?

        • Don
          December 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

          And I’m not a dick Jim, you are! 😛

      • Alex
        December 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

        Yeah, Don. I demand that you like New Belgium!

        (sorry if I gave that impression)

        • December 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

          You didn’t Alex, I just enjoy calling him a dick.

      • Don
        December 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

        I know all that stuff about NB. I actually read an article in some magazine about the owner, and how she kind of stole the company from her husband in a divorce…Did I say stole? I mean she got it in the settlement… Anyway I know they are green, and good to their employees, most breweries are. And I might agree with some of their beers being uninteresting, but some are downright bad. Like their blue paddle pilsner is about the worst pilsner I’ve ever had. Yeah, I’d rather have a BMC than that. That is where me and NB get crossways, because they put out truly bad beers along with their mediocre crap. So I have written them off. I started to turn the corner on NB a little bit however at the GABF when Jim and I went to the rare beer tasting. They had a lychee tart beer that I really liked. It was so tart and tasted like sour apple but in a really interesting way. Of course they don’t brew that beer regularly, or I would drink it a lot. This Vrienden, which I will give a proper review to later, was pretty nice. I think they missed some opportunities on the flavor profile, but all in all it was a pretty good effort. And I’m no saint. I had a free taste before I made my purchase decision!

      • Alex
        December 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

        Good points, Don. And yeah, Blue Paddle is a stinker. New Belgium is kind of an interesting case. I think that they had a lot of success early on due to Fat Tire (an approachable, pseudo-Belgian amber with a cool label) and didn’t really grow as brewers to match their success. I’d like to think that now, with the resources they have at their disposal, they will finally make some really great beers. Kind of like the Hollywood director who makes a blockbuster that panders to a wide audience so he/she can have the opportunity to create something more artful down the road (i.e. Steven Soderbergh directing the Ocean’s 11 movies in order to make “Bubble” and “Che”).

        Of course, this theory will all go to hell when we see “Skinny Tire Lo-Carb ‘Craft’ Beer” in a Super Bowl ad.

        • Don
          December 15, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

          **Of course, this theory will all go to hell when we see “Skinny Tire Lo-Carb ‘Craft’ Beer” in a Super Bowl ad.**
          I love it! I hope you are correct and they will get more into brewing and less into making money. Blue paddle was the first to come to mind, but 2 below is pretty awful too, not to mention I really don’t like Fat Tire. So there is a lot not to like, but they are getting more adventurous with their Lips of Faith line. Hopefully that begins to come into the central part of the brewery and begin to make more weird stuff for the masses. I suggest they start with that Lychee Tart! That stuff was great.

  6. December 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Too funny! (from Don) “… because they put out truly bad beers along with their mediocre crap.”

    I think its good that some of the box restaurants are thinking about different beer options. I can’t say too much about New Belgium beers though as I’ve only had the Fat Tire once. But, I didn’t like it at all.

    I think a selection of Sam Adams beers would be a safe bet for these places.

    • Don
      December 16, 2010 at 9:54 am #

      I agree Scott, Sam Adams beers would be a much better choice. Much more solid.

  7. December 21, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    I agree Scott, Sam Adams beers would be a much better choice. Much more solid.

    • December 21, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

      Sam Adams is all over the place out here in NJ – it’s my go-to beer at places like TGI Fridays, Houlihans and the other fine-dining establishments I frequent. Basically anywhere that you get crayons with the children’s menu is fine by me. 🙂

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