There are at least three Catholic Saints associated with beer-making. One of them, Arnulf of Metz (depicted with a mash rake in hand) is responsible for for the legend of the beer mug – a never-ending supply of beer. The legend goes something like this: a group of his parishoners went searching for the hermit Saint’s body in a rough and tumble land. Parched, they prayed to Saint Arnold and miraculously their steins were filled with beer. Sounds like a nice guy, huh?
Saint Arnold’s memory lives on at the Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston, Texas. Every week day from 11am to 1:15pm chef Ryan Savoie prepares an incredible prix fixe menu. Not only is the food plentiful and delicious, but in true Saint Arnold fashion the glasses of beer are never empty.
Friday’s lunch was carbonade flamande, or for the less Flemish among us, beef stew. Made with beer. Served with frites and a side green salad with a homemade vinaigrette.
So the stew: it was incredible: thick enough to stick to your ribs, savory and delicious. Fork-tender cuts of beef, mushrooms, onions, and carrots float lazily in the gravy. An island of sour cream and a dollop of coarse spicy mustard went along for the ride.
The french fries are light and airy with a perfect crunch and just the right amount of salty-goodness.
As far as salads go, this one was pretty good – a variety of greens, carrots, fresh croutons, cucumbers, and a fantastic house-made vinaigrette lightly applied and perfectly seasoned. I only added a little dash of pepper to the salad, otherwise it was perfect.
Not only was the food delicious, but the beer was incredible, too. I tried the Santo and the Elissa. I’ve never had a Kölsch before, and was pleasantly surprised. Both were eminently drinkable. I’d even consider the Santo to be a sessionable beer – it felt pretty light. The Elissa however was probably most similar to our old favorite Jai Alai – a great balance of sweet malts and grassy hops. Good old Saint Arnold would be proud.
The lunch didn’t stop there however – we also had a chocolate torte and a strawberry short cake, both house made and incredible. The Elissa was a perfect match with the torte. Words can’t describe the foodgasm that was had that day.
The brewery itself is housed in an old Houston Independent School District industrial kitchen or administration building or something like that. Basically its a massive old factory building. Brick. Tall ceilings. Old staircases and windows and stuff. Lots of character.
Downstairs is the brewing operation while upstairs are some massive mash tuns and an incredible beer hall. (By the way, words don’t do this place justice, so check out the incredible Google Maps interior rendition!) Like everything else in Texas, the place is massive – apparently official seating for over 200 people, communal style.
All in all – it’s worth the $20 that you’re going to spend, especially if you consider that you’re going to get to try some great beer too.
The brewery is located at 2000 Lyons Avenue just north of downtown Houston Texas. Check their website for current menus and stuff: www.saintarnold.com.