Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beer Dinner at Catalan with Anvil's Kevin Floyd

Kevin Floyd from Anvil
When deciding on the beer dinners to attending during Houston Beer Week, it was the one that combined Catalan's amazing food with Kevin Floyd's excellent beer knowledge that had me the most intrigued. The Executive Chef at Catalan Food and Wine, Chris Shepherd, had just won My Table's Chef of the Year Award and Kevin Floyd is the Beer Guru and part owner of the multiple award winning Anvil Bar & Refuge. It was even enough to convince my wife to come along with me.

Chef Chris Shepherd (behind my wife)
 We were met in the private dining room at Catalan with bologna sausage hor d'oeuvres and Keystone Light poured into champagne flutes.  Interesting start.  But this was Catalan's homemade bologna sausage and the Keystone Light was selected as an example of the beer style that most Americans are familiar with when they think about beer.  It was also the first beer that Kevin Floyd ever legally purchased and consumed in his younger days.  Considering how young he still is, he's come a long way in his beer knowledge and preferences in a pretty short time.

Kevin indicated at the start of evening that he had managed to get a couple of beers that are currently unavailable in this country (but will be soon) to serve during the dinner.  The first unknown beer was the Saison de Dottignies from Brouwerij De Ranke located in Wevelgem, Belgium.  Aroma and flavours of grass, lemon and pepper with a slightly dry earthy finish with a lingering bitterness.  The beer was paired, naturally, with large meaty mussels served in a creamy broth.  We all wanted some bread to soak up the delicious broth with, but that would clearly have been a bad decision based on how much food was yet to come.

The second course was fish and chips served with Left Hand Polestar Pilsner.  The Chef informed us that the fish was Gulf Hake which is apparently not normally served in restaurants. It was lightly battered and fried and served with malt vinegar chips and smoked steelhead trout roe.  The fish was light and flakey and the roe added little bursts of smoke flavour to each bite.  The Polestar Pilsner is a good example of a German Pilsner with an earthy and floral hop aroma, sweet grainy malt flavour and dry clean finish.

The second of Kevin's surprise special beers was brought out for the third course, an Imperial Dunkelwit from the Nøgne Ø  brewery in Norway.  I've never had an Imperial Dunkelwit (a strong dark Belgian wit) before and was definitely my favourite beer of the evening.  Aromas of brown sugar, coriander and orange peel.  Sweet malt flavour with a blend of coriander, citrus and roasted nuts.  It paired very well with the shredded suckling port tacos served with picked red onions and the chef's homemade hot sauce.  The hot sauce had a lingering heat which the Dunkelwit did a good job of quenching.

Goat on a bed of plantains and pork belly
 Baby goat spiced with cloves, all spice and other things (can't read my notes) served on a bed of smashed plantains was the fourth course paired with Wild Devil from Victory Brewing. Wild Devil is the the Hop Devil IPA that's been fermented using 100% Brettanomyces yeast.  The result is an already bold IPA with a spicy and mildly sour flavour.  This would be a tough beer to try and pair with food, but it went well with all the strong spices in the dish and the goat itself.

We were all starting to get pretty full by this point and wasn't sure how much of the small burger with homemade beans that I'd be able to eat when the fifth course arrived.  But oh, what a burger!  After one bite I new I wouldn't be able to leave any behind. Stuffed with cheese and served on a pretzel bun, the flavour was incredible without any condiments on it at all.  To wash it down with, Kevin selected Hop Stoopid from Lagunitas Brewing.  At 102 IBU's, its not nearly as hoppy as you would expect as it has a pretty strong sweetness to the flavour that helps to balance out all that bitterness.

And whether you had room for it or not, there was no way to resist the final course of a flourless chocolate cake with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top.  Creamy, gooey and chocolately, it was served along side Stone Brewing's Imperial Russian Stout from 2009 that Kevin has been saving in the cooler at Anvil for just such an occasion.  As suggested by the chef, I dropped some of the ice cream in my glass of beer and let it melt into a creamy dessert all on its own.

I'd like to thank Chef Shepherd for preparing six fantastic courses and Kevin Floyd for finding beer that paired great with all them.  I'm still so full today that I've skipped both breakfast and lunch.

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