Friday, February 3, 2012

Holy Mackerel Craft Beer Dinner Tasting at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza

Anthony Bruno
Last night I was invited to attend the Holy Mackerel Craft Beer Dinner Tasting at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. By invited, I mean that I was a non-paying guest of Anthony's, who only asked that I write my unbiased opinion of the event and to make sure that I told you the meal was comped. This dinner was a four-course meal, each course paired with a different beer. Also of note is that this dinner was hosted by Anthony Bruno, founder of Anthony's, and Bob Gordash, owner and brewmaster of the Holy Mackerel beer brand. Pretty cool, right? #HolyANT was the Twitter hash tag we were supposed to use, if you're interested.

Since it's a theme of mine, and I'm trying to instill this value in all of you, I'll let you know that I arrived 10 minutes early. Not only was that courteous, but it also afforded me the opportunity to BS with Bob Gordash before dinner started. Bob predicted that the dessert course would prove to be the most enjoyed pairing of the evening. We'll see!

On my table, like on Anthony's website menu, there was a little sign instructing me to ask my server about their craft beer selection. I did just that and later came to find a card that also listed the craft beers this location has available: Blue Point Hoptical Illusion, Monk In The Trunk, Sea Dog Blueberrry, Hagic Hat #9, Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale, and Florida Lager. Not a bad list at all.

Bob Gordash
This dinner was planned after the success of a similar event that Anthony's co-hosted with Blue Point Brewing at one of their New York restaurants. I asked how this event materialized after I saw Anthony Bruno and Bob Gordash shake hands and obviously meet for the first time. Anthony told me that he appreciates local businesses and that was a must for who would join them for this dinner. One of his executives did a little research and found that Gordash Beers was local and Bob had some awesome local talent. Bob was asked, accepted and preparations began for tonight's dinner.

So let's start with the dinner. Course #1 was a fresh garden salad along with a mozzarella and tomato salad. This was paired with Magic Hat #9 and a frosty glass. Despite not being the brewer, Bob did a great job pumping up this apricot beer. Garden salad was fresh with nice dressing. Our table didn't get enough portions of the mozzarella salad and I was odd man out on that. I asked our server to get me an additional one, and I saw him ask at least two people for it, but he never came back with one. When he did come back, he had the next course. Oh well. He moved on and so did I. As for the beer, I drank all of mine AND all of my friend Leah's, which was surprising for this beer considering how I have been dissing it for the entire month of January. Great start, so far.

Course #2 came a little too soon afterward. If there wasn't a beer paired with each course, it would have been perfect. But I could have used five more minutes for my salad and Magic Hat. But that was soon forgotten when our servers brought Anthony's Soul Food and a bottle of Holy Mackerel Panic Attack! "Soul Food" included some huge meatballs in sauce with ricotta cheese, Pork Ribs with spicy peppers, and Coal Fired Chicken Wings. Oh, and some sort of garlic bread, too. Mmm.

That's a lot of food. What was cool and made the whole food experience fun was sharing the family-style plates with the others at our table. I tried a few rounds of each soul food item. The meatballs were delicious, the ribs fell off the bone and the wings had that coal oven char on them--different and delicious. I was enjoying my Panic Attack when Bob came over to make sure we were enjoying his beer so far. The boozy fruitiness and great texture worked terrifically with the food. Great combo.

That's when we got our first little break, like where you'd unbutton your pants if you weren't in public. Anthony came over right about then and we chatted a few minutes. I asked him if he was a beer kind of guy, considering the amount of pictures I've seen him in holding a glass of wine. He told me that he's becoming a craft beer guy, mainly because his 26 year old son is getting into it as well. He mentioned that this is their third event like this and having local brewers involved with them was important. He mentioned that Bob and his Belgian-style beer lineup were right on target. Super nice guy, happy to answer questions, very much a guy that was there to be with the people that were dining in his restaurant. I asked about the special Peroni nights that Anthony's has every week, and he told me that they'd consider other specials that would attract craft beer enthusiasts. I'd go it it were good, but not for a $1.50 Peroni.

Just when I thought dinner was over, was sipping my Panic Attack, the lull ended and our server brought Course #3, three pizzas for our table to enjoy. Roasted cauliflower, Plain and Sausage with Peppers. I of course had one of each plus a bonus cauliflower slice. That was incredibly different and really a yummy pizza. Thank God I got my veggies for the day between that and the peppers. We were served Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale with the pizzas. This one was also boozy and fruity, quite delicious.

Around that time, Bob came back to chat about this beer. One thing Bob did that surprised me was compare his beer to Blue Moon. I don't think Blue Moon sucks, but just identifying with a mass produced beer is not very typical. Plus his beer kicks Blue Moon ass! Anyway, this is a super-passionate man. So I asked him a loaded question, something like, "Do beer style guidelines piss you off?" Bob was in total agreement and elaborated that he is asked about that all the time. "What style is this beer?" He said he tells them it's a Belgian-style beer, the end. He's out to be different and creative while making flavorful beers. Bravo, Bob. Stick it to the BJCP!

My follow up question was how he decides what category to do competitions in. He told me he's been too busy to enter in the past few years. Apparently, besides the One Gallon test batches he's continuously doing locally, he has plans to open a small production brewery here. He emphasized small and that he's happy with most of his commercial work being done at Thomas Creek in South Carolina. I asked Bob to let a secret slip, and he did. He told me his next beer will likely be a beer that has three letters with the first one being "I". He even mouthed the other two letters when I didn't get it immediately.

Another 10 minutes of clean up and digestion and beer drinking and socializing led to Course #4, cheesecake with some cookies along for the ride. Oh, and Holy Mackerel Mack in Black! What a luscious creamy cheesecake, nice and rich. The beer was roasty with quite a nice amount of chocolate. Not sweet and a little smoke too. Bob admitted less pomegranates this year, which I think was an excellent adjustment. And it was perfect with the dessert. Our neighbors left a few minutes later, which was when I grabbed their barely touched bottle of Mack in Black. It was that delicious.

It was nice to sit around and mingle and chat for a while afterward too. No one felt like we were being rushed out, which was a very nice touch. I got to talk with the famous Ed Roberts and MikeLovesBeer. Bob wanted to know if he was correct about his favorite pairing prediction. Personally, I liked his other two beers better, though I thought the pairings were all pretty equal and successful.

Besides meeting Anthony and Bob, one other highlight of the evening was having Marilyn Monroe watch me take a leak in the mirror of the rest room. I thought that was only the thing dreams are made of. On the way out, Ed gave me a poster that Queensryche's Whip Whilton had signed for his store a few months back. It was just as he handed it to me that I thought what better place to hang it than Anthony's. I mean if Marino and Namath can be on the wall behind me, why not an ultra famous rocker? I gave it to the manager there after she told me she was interested in hanging the poster, despite never hearing of the band or its 20 million sold records. I also made the mistake of guessing she was 28 when she's actually 24. (Oops. Don't worry though, that's an old guy mistake).

Holy Mackerel-mobile
What else? Um. Frosty mugs are NOT necessary or even desirable for beer, unless your beer starts with B U D. I think a wireless microphone for 60 guests would have been desirable too, but whatever, our hosts did table-to-table stops many times each. Finally, I think there was too much food. I know you want to showcase everything available, but maybe cut out one pizza and one of the salad items? I don't think leftover doggie boxes were meant to happen right? Anyway, not a problem, just an observation.

Guess what? Anthony's gave me a $25 gift card to give away in any way I see fit. So here are the rules. In the picture above where Anthony and I are chatting, my pal Leah is Tweeting something. I want to know what you think her Tweet looked like, remembering the 140 character limit. Here is her timeline in case you have no idea what you should try to type.

Enter no more than two times ( I know sometimes it takes two) by leaving your entry as a comment. Be sure to leave a name and email or twitter handle if you want to actually win. There will be some kind of judging by me (or maybe I'll ask for help). Rest assured, I wont play favorites. I just want funny, but remember to have good taste and keep your answers to PG-13. Please be in the US, too.

Oh, since you'll be tired of watching the stupid Super Bowl pregame show for 24 hours, I'll give you something to do. Entries are due by Sunday's kick off. I'll pick a winner shortly afterward. If there are zero entries, I'll donate the gift card to a local food bank.

Thank you for the invite, Anthony's. I had a terrific time and think all of the staff did a great job. The food was excellent. Bob, nice beers. For a one-man show, you certainly kick ass. See you around.


FloriBrew said...

Probably was "omg this is like occupy @AnthonysCFPizza right now!!! #holyant"

FloriBrew said...

Or "Oh: I wanna drink their beer but they may have something"

Anonymous said...

"They think I am taking notes, But I am really just laughing at what is on his his finger!!" -

Anonymous said...

holy mackerel! @DailyBeerReview's monk in the trunk has a magic finish. #holyANT (@laurencstill)

farlieonfootie said...

It's funny. I didn't think I liked Magic Hat #9, either, until I had it again recently -- at Anthony's...! Needless to say, I enjoyed it and went out and bought a six or two. Good article -- sounds like a fun event.

@RealVicArvizu said...

Anthony is cute. Did he say he had a 26 year old son. Bet he's totes hawt.

MarcusBP said...

"As good as this food and beer is, its bad for my diet. I'll just go to the gym tomorrow..."

(Then - Tweeted the following day "Not happening today..maybe I will go to the gym tomorrow")

Gretchen R. Cothron said...

I love the dark mackerel beer. It'd be perfect with Anthony's broccoli and sausage dish. @BloodandButter

Beer Drinker Rob said...

Gretchen. Thanks for getting in an entry 13 seconds before kickoff. BTW I had a girlfriend named Gretchen that I totally adored for many years of my life. Since it's not a common name, I always greet it with lots of affection. Anyway, that has nothing to do with my choice. But I love the name.

The winner is "Anthony is cute. Did he say he had a 26 year old son. Bet he's totes hawt."

Vic. Who the hell are you? I know you've been stalking me on Twitter. I need a real address though.

Finally, the contest is over, but it's still totally cool to guess what @BeahBunnie was typing when the owner of the freakin' restaurant was standing right there over her. Let me know.