Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lunch at Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Everyone in the Houston area who drinks craft beer is well aware of the existence of Saint Arnold Brewing Company. They're the oldest continuously operating craft brewery in Texas and they produce some of the beers that are iconic for the Houston area, including Elissa IPA (named after the ship in Galveston), Lawnmower, Santo (one of my year-round favorites, not just because it's inexpensive for craft beer), Divine Reserve (there's a new one each year), Bishop's Barrel (amazing, if you can get your hands on it), and Endeavour (absolutely delicious, with limited distribution).

Saint Arnold is actually Saint Arnulf of Metz, the patron saint of brewing.
Brewery tours are available daily when the brewery is open, however not everyone knows they also have a wonderful lunch most days.  To celebrate The Lovely Spouse's birthday, we visited the brewery or lunch.  Note: make reservations because they usually sell out. There was a line outside the door when we arrived waiting for no-shows.  Lunch is served 11 am - 2 pm.  Show up by 1:15 pm or forfeit your spot.

Brewery reps are easy to find around town by the company cars they drive.

Sorry for the blurry pict. 
As you enter the main hall you get a great view of where the magic happens.  We weren't there for the tour so we just watched through the windows.

They were shut down for cleaning the day we were there. Normally there would be steam on these windows.
The way the lunch works is you show up before 1:15 pm and all the beer you can drink (without public intoxication) is included.  They'll give you a pager for when your lunch is ready.  So go up to the counter and request your drinks.  Tea and water were available for non-drinkers.

Not included are bottled and special beers.  I paid extra for the Divine Reserve '14 because it's hard to find elsewhere.  Lovely all-around body with good citrus characteristics. Smooth finish. Served in a smaller glass because it's around 9% ABV.

Stout, Divine Reserve '14, and The Lovely Spouse's special mug filled with amber.
The lunch menu is fixed each day. Go to the reservations page to see what is offered each day. The ala carte menu on the same page applies to the tours, which happen immediately after lunch.  So if you're still hungry stick around for the tour and order food. Tours include a tasting glass with a limited number of tokens for drinks. 

Lunch the day we went was roasted chicken with biscuits and gravy and a salad. 

Swag was also for sale at the kitchen.
Well-made and very filling roasted chicken with exceptional green beans (I could have eaten a pile of just the beans) and a parsnip and carrot salad.
A surprisingly excellent salad tossed with a light balsamic vinaigrette. 
This was more than enough food for lunch. But it was delicious and I definitely recommend coming back whenever it's convenient to visit and the menu items sound delicious.

The view of Houston from the brewery.

There was even live Christmas music.

The other beers I drank that day were the Boiler Room Berliner Weisse and the Icon Red Sorachi Ace Dubbel.  I don't normally care for sours so I was pleasantly surprised that the Berliner Weisse was mild and fruity.  This makes it much more drinkable, to me, than the funky sours I've tried at other breweries.

The other beer I drank was Icon Red Sorachi Ace Dubbel. Part of the Icon Series, it's a special run for the brewery and only available seasonally. I didn't like the Texas Common Icon Green so I was a bit hesitant, but the Sorachi was a good, well-rounded beer.  Nice blend of malts and a smooth finish.

The year-round beers available.  Lawnmower tastes completely different at the brewery.  I don't care for it in bottles, but it's delicious at the brewery.

Seasonal beer menu. Obviously the Winter Stout was available in December. Whether or not they have any of their special runs (e.g., Bishop's Barrel) depends upon availability.
If you're a craft beer drinker in the Houston area, I absolutely recommend Saint Arnold Brewery for lunch or the tour. Prices are reasonable, the food is good, and so is the beer.

As usual, if you drink, designate a driver and get home safely.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Seasons Greetings!

Image Source.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and a prosperous, healthy, and happy New Year. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Celebrating Winter Solstice with Ronin Cooking

What better way to celebrate the longest night of the year than with good food and great company?  This year we joined Ronin Cooking during their Winter Solstice Hog Roast at their farm.

For those not familiar with them, Ronin Cooking is a husband and wife operation on 15 acres just outside of Bryan, Texas city limits.  They raise ducks, guinea fowl, chickens, turkeys, roosters, and heritage breed pigs. They also cook. And very well at that.  They have a farm to table philosophy that is reflected in seasonal ingredients and partnerships with other local businesses.  Once a month they host Full Moon Dinners at their lovely farm and word is starting to spread about them.

The pigs were in the front pasture this evening so we were greeted by the group foraging under the oaks for acorns. This is a mix of breeds.
A flock of geese watches over the pigs.
A Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig.

John from New Republic Brewery was serving Kadigan to attendees.
Guests put their stuff where ever they wanted to sit. There was plenty of room for everyone.

The kitchen.

Hot mulled apple cider available for self-service. This was exceptionally delicious and perfect for the cool evening.
Lighting the chimneas with a propane torch.

Attendees were asked to bring donations for the Brazos Valley Food Bank. One of their very sweet dogs kept watch. 
How the hog, from Richardson Farm in Rockdale, was roasted. 
In case you weren't sure whether or not they support local sustainable foods, they do, even in the restroom.
I have pantry envy. 
Delicious food. And, yes, the skin was properly crisp.

Roasted pork was served with mint beets, steamed rice, fried green tomatoes with a Sriracha mayo, and braised Napa cabbage. Everything was delicious and there was plenty for seconds, for those who had room.

Dessert was hot apple cobbler served with house made fresh whipped cream and sorghum syrup. The syrup added a nice, grainy, cereal flavor to the cobbler. Fantastic.
In the kitchen you'll find culinary texts next to Shakespeare.
The evening ended with a bonfire in the woods. 

It was a lovely way to spend an evening. The food was good, the company was good, the setting was lovely. I definitely recommend going to any of Ronin Cooking's dinners.  We'll be back for one of their Full Moon Dinners.  Find them at their website or on facebook.