Last night, my wife and I headed up to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza in Pompano Beach for their craft beer dinner with Due South Brewing. I guess I did a decent job covering the Holy Mackerel dinner back in February as I was invited back by Anthony's for this encore. In fact, if you keep reading, there will even be a little contest to win a $25 gift card Anthony's gave me.
Let's see. Yes, I was on time. Upon entering, I spotted the guy in charge and worked my way over to where we were to be seated. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but... Paul Castronovo posing for pictures with owner Anthony Bruno and other guests!
Most of the other gang was on time too, including a few I had never met in person. I met and sat next to Dori Zinn, who I am sure already beat me to posting her article for New Times of Broward. I met long-time Twitter pal and prior guest poster Jarret, who turned out to be a very fun guy. I finally met Brewkkake's wife as well. And there were probably half a dozen others that I already knew, too: Joel, Leah, Ed, Tony, MikeLovesBeer, etc. Was nice!
|Mike Halker Welcomes Everyone|
I was right near where Mike made his opening speech, so when he finished, he stopped by the table to say hello and for a quick chat before the food started coming out. I asked him about the beers on the menu, since three of them were not available when I went to the brewery's opening 6 months ago. Mike picked out the Cafe Ole Espresso Porter from those three to talk about and seemed relieved that they were able to complete brewing it on time for the dinner. In fact, they finished it the day before. Caramel Cream Ale was the only beer I had tried prior, and I recalled out loud Mike previously mentioning his wife likes it. Here he just chuckled and said, "We'll always have Caramel Cream Ale!"
And with that, he was gone... and a glass of Caramel Cream Ale was in front of me. Funny how life works! So dinner was finally on. Anthony's started with their Classic Italian Salad alongside their Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Salad. It seemed there wasn't enough dressing, but deep down, it was there and really delicious. Lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, very nice. And thick-sliced tomatoes with mozzarella? Oh, yeah!
The next dish was controversial. Controversial mostly because of beer order, which I'll comment on later. Anthony's Meatballs with Ricotta and Oven-Roasted Chicken wings were served with the potent Cat 5 IPA. Since the beer has almost 9% alcohol in it and almost 100 IBU, we were given a smaller pour than the other beers. I watched and listened to the others at our table as they tried this beer. Each sheepishly said they didn't really like it and went back to drinking their remaining Caramel Cream Ale.
I wasn't really surprised by that reaction to the Cat 5 IPA. It is a bold and bitter beer, and you can certainly taste and feel the alcohol. It's totally for Hop Heads and not exactly approachable for people that don't love the style. Someone said had a medicine feel. Personally, the reason they didn't like it is the reason I did. And I thought it was a great beer to go with the very rich dinner course. Cleaned the palate perfectly!
In the end, I made sure no Cat 5 IPA went to waste at my table, if you know what I mean. I even (unintentionally) interrupted Dori's interview with Mike Halker to be sure she didn't want any more.
The next course included Anthony's Pork Ribs with Vinegar Peppers paired with Due South's Cafe Ole Espresso Porter. This beer was a straight-up coffee bomb, aroma and flavor. My table really enjoyed this one. Besides the coffee, there was a nice roast and a little smoke and no annoying bitterness. It was very smooth and a little flat but really worked with the spicy dish. Those vinegar peppers were in large part jalapenos.
The final course of the night was Anthony's pizzas paired with Florida Blonde Ale. We got to try the Roasted Cauliflower, Mozzarrella and Tomato, and Traditional "Well Done" pizzas. The cauliflower was awesome and had a nice spiciness to it. The beer was light and fruity and refreshing.
Some of the people there suggested they might have liked to see this beer pairing come second, before the Cat 5 IPA, because their palates were somehow wrecked by the big IPA. And I hear that. But usually that happens when there are more than four beers you are trying and you're not eating that much food. For me, the food easily balanced out the beers and each beer was easy to taste the flavors despite the order (and remember I had four of those IPAs).
I had a great night, a nice meal and terrific beers. When one of these beer dinners comes to your local Anthony's, you should definitely go! For $30 you get a lot of delicious food and four beers. And your tip and tax is included in that already. This is the no-brainer of the century. Be sure to look for Due South beers locally as well, and if you can, stop by the brewery in Boynton Beach!
Now, remember I said there was a contest? To enter, you must go to this two-paragraph article I wrote yesterday and comment there your thoughts on my "shirt theory". Yes, it's related to the Anthony's dinner. If you comment here, it doesn't count. Your comment can be funny, sarcastic, agree or disagree, I don't care. Do keep it PG 13 since that is not my website. I will pick the comment I like best as the winner of the $25 gift card to Anthony's next Wednesday afternoon. Your comment must be made by noon that day, Eastern time. Oh, and be sure to leave some way of contacting you in case you win.