During the sweltering heat and humidity that is too often typical of Houston's summer months there takes place a phenomenon of physics – a shifting of the poles such that for one night in July the North Pole has a physical address within easy reach: 5301 Nolda Street. On this not-so-silent night countless elves coordinate the delivery and unwrapping of presents that bring good tidings to the two hundred and fifty people in attendance while food trucks offer their own variations of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
This was Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company's second annual Christmas in July. It was hot and humid, but it was a helluva good time. It was a night where the Buffalo Bayou team brings joy to the world in the form of “flavor-driven innovation”.
Wit Christmas made it's premier at this event, joining others in the Wit Series including Blueberry Wit, Tarragon Wit, Watermelon Wit, Chamomile Wit, Blood Orange Witbier, Wit Da Eff, and a margarita-style Summer Shandy derived from their Summer Wit. And as sure as reindeer are likely to be pulling a sleigh, these unique beers had others in tow throughout the evening as well, among them: Gingerbread Stout (nitro), Coconut Black IPA with Jaggery, Sauvignon Blond, and a “charred” variant of their 1836 flagship.
Specializing in smaller batches of creative offerings such as these, Santa himself, Rassul Zarinfar, explains the philosophy behind Buffalo Bayou's unique approach to brewing using a command of language that echos the blending of art and science that you hold in your glass. Describing the Wit Series, he states “the flavors are already there in the yeast strain” with each being “variations on a theme played through different instruments.” To the un-initiated, linguistic cues such as these hint at the doors of understanding and adventure that are there to be opened.
Speaking with Grant Chesshir, who has been brewing with Buffalo Bayou for just over a year, you begin to recognize that there is a larger world around you. “You're creating life out of grain and hops”, which in-turn “creates a relationship with people”. As he reflects on his experiences previously as a home brewer and his time brewing professionally with Buffalo Bayou, you are guided further by a continued sense of his appreciation for this larger world: “Every day is a challenge and a reward, there's no end to what you can learn. There is an ebb and flow that is just beautiful to me.”
The previous week I had the good fortune of being able to attend the collaborative dinner that Buffalo Bayou held with the Houston City Club. Buff Brew and Chef Jon Hebert's “assault on the palette” spanned an incredible range of flavors that stretched both the imagination and the ability to patiently await the next course in the six-course dinner. Here, many of Buffalo Bayou's unique beers were featured among equally creative culinary achievements: Braised Pork Belly paired with Charred 1836, Seared Scallops with the Belgian Blond with Tarragon, Mushroom Comfit Salad with Hibiscus Summer Wit, Intermezzo with Sauvignon Blond, Molasses Braised Veal Osso Bucco with Coconut Black IPA with Jaggery, and for dessert a Black Pepper and Strawberry Flan with Buffalo Bayou's renowned Figaro beer.
Recalling his part in preparing for the dinner event Grant brings us back to the world of physics through a simple concept: “the liquid compliments the solid and the solid compliments the liquid.”
Each of these hugely successful events is the result of intense innovation, planning, setup, and delivery. So, what's next for Buff Brew? Rassul stated in very clear terms he was most looking forward to taking the weekend off. Believe me, it is relaxation that is very well deserved.
God rest, ye merry gentlemen!