Olives and Beer Don't Mix

olives

If you paid a team of scientists to come up with a foodstuff designed to ruin the flavour of beer, they’d invent the olive. Olives steamroller through the flavours of all but the most intense and complex beers. In fact, we find that they make most beers taste like cheese. Eugh.

So, why are they so ubiquitous in British pubs? And why on Earth do we keep ordering them..?

Photo from Prakhar at Flickr, under a Creative Commons License.

19 thoughts on “Olives and Beer Don't Mix”

  1. Apparently one of the microbreweries here experimented with making an olive beer – it was awful according to those who tried it.

  2. I will eat literally anything, but olives are the one thing that I just don’t like. I just think it’s like eating a bit of whale skin – leathery and salty. And as for a beer snack? I’ll stick to the crisps!

  3. I like olives and beer and cheese. Sometimes I have all three together and I’ve never noticed any detrimental flavours. Mind you, in that situation I’m not normally in flavour appreciation mode, more in a satisfying basic hunger and thirst type activity.

  4. I love olives. But not straight-up with beer.

    The olives in the labneh-beer pairing in from the article you linked to worked because the labneh muted the excesses of olives.

    Badass beer helped. But it still needed the labneh to make it work.

    The right cheese helps a lot because it mutes the olives. Without the cheese…no.

    Maudite with labneh, and Moroccan black olives was excellent and is definitely worth the effort.

  5. I live olives. For years I just couldn’t eat them and then about 25 years ago in Turkey, I suddenly found them edible and by increasing leaps and bounds, wonderful.

    I don’t eat them with beer as a rule, but I think I’d get by.

  6. Yes, living olives would be a bit extreme, however nice they are. Unless you were an olive grower, I guess.

  7. Olives and cheese with beer sounds like an interesting culinary experiment. As a rule for any family gathering, I have a bowl of olives ready to go before anything else. To me, the olive is ultimate. The fact that they’re apparently sitting out in nearly every British pub, just waiting to be devoured, is a travesty to an olive-loving American such as myself.

  8. Oh, this is a coincidence, I was out drinking with Ewan yesterday and the conversation (and indeed the consumption) got around to bar snacks. I mentioned this thread about bar snacks to him, and it also seems relevant here. We were drinking wine rather than beer, but it seemed to me that the chilled radishes we ordered to go with it would also go pretty well with beer.

    I think the main constraint with pub snacks is that unless you offer things which don’t mind hanging around for a while (olives, nuts, crisps, etc) then you will have wastage. Radishes never seem to keep well for more than a few days, at least in my fridge.

  9. Paul – Stop drinking in dives mate. When I lived in Liverpool it was sliced pigs belly in malt vinegar. That was in a dive too actually, but they didn’t charge you £2.75 for a bowl of 6.

  10. Paul — they’re certainly fairly common in London, especially in pubs with any pretensions whatsoever. Our local, which doesn’t do food otherwise, has a weird carousel of plastic-packed marinated olives that they probably bought at about the same time as their automatic mulled wine dispenser…

  11. yeah, it’s the gastropub thing, again, isnt it? People in the med eating olives = must be good. Yet people in the med aren’t usually supping a pint of beer at the same time. I love olives, but not as a beersnack. Give me bread (unflavoured, home-made) for that any day. Or smoked meat.

  12. “So, why are they so ubiquitous in British pubs?”

    Because people like them and not everyone who drinks in pubs drinks beer?

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