Saint Arnold And The Hay Merchant Team Up On Special Beer For MS Fundraiser
Houston-based Saint Arnold Brewing Company has brewed a limited edition beer, Gordon’s TerraForm, to raise money for the Grant Gordon Foundation. The organization, founded in 2015, educates patients and their families on the chemical effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) on the brain, which can lead to mental health issues. The beer debuts at The Hay Merchant at 1100 Westheimer on Wednesday, August 9 at 3 p.m. It will also be sold at the Saint Arnold tap room.
All proceeds from sales of the beer go to the charity. Gordon’s TerraForm is the result of a collaborative effort between founder Brock Wagner’s team at Saint Arnold’s team at Saint Arnold and The Hay Merchant principals Kevin Floyd and chef Chris Shepherd. It’s a one-of-a-kind beer fitting to honor the unique, multitalented chef for which it is named. “The barrels were donated from Miner Family Wines located in Napa Valley,” explained Saint Arnold brewer Aaron Inkrott. “They were all red wine barrels: a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. We used our seasonal Oktoberfest [to age in the barrels], which technically is a Scottish-style ale. This means it has a malt-forward profile, arguably one of the sweeter beers in our portfolio.”
However, adding wild yeast—in this case, brettanomyces—can totally change the base beer’s profile (which is also why it’s named “terraform”; it’s been re-landscaped in a sense). To put it simply, yeast eats sugar and Oktoberfest had plenty to offer. The end result is a much dryer beer, as well as complex aromatics and flavors. “The beer no longer has its malt-forward backbone,” says Inkrott. “The brett has dried the beer out further, allowing rich, dried fruit, with some funk, and the red wine barrel carrying the finish. The beer was aged for 10 months.”
Wagner, Floyd and Shepherd will be present for the launch party at The Hay Merchant. In addition, proceeds from the sales of two special dishes—Shepherd’s smoked beer can chicken and Saint Arnold chef Ryan Savoie’s housemade Amber Ale Bratwurst—will also go to the foundation. One lucky attendee will win a ticket to this year’s Southern Smoke fundraiser.
A few days later—Friday, August 11—there’s a second release party at Saint Arnold Brewing Company at 2000 Lyons (and a second opportunity to score a ticket to Southern Smoke). The event coincides with Pint Night and Gordon’s TerraForm will be available at the brewery until it’s sold out.
The benefitting foundation’s namesake was MS sufferer, Grant Gordon (formerly executive chef of Tony’s, Vallone’s and would-be partner of The Edmont, which he never had the chance to open). His suicide after his diagnosis shocked and saddened Houston’s dining community. The only positive aspect of the tragedy is that it has led to greater awareness that MS affects the mind as well as the body. Some studies have found that, without intervention, patients with MS are twice more likely to take their own lives than healthy individuals.
Later, when sommelier Antonio Gianola was also diagnosed with MS, Shepherd (who used to work with Gianola at a previous restaurant) founded the Southern Smoke fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, now in its third year. Gordon’s mother, Harriet, contacted Shepherd to discuss the possibility of the Grant Gordon Foundation partnering with Southern Smoke. The new Saint Arnold fundraiser beer, Gordon’s TerraForm, is the result.
Really, Gordon’s TerraForm is the first of two fundraising beers. A second, Gordon’s TerriorForm, incorporates Texas mustang grapes (a source of wild yeast, as well as fruit) into the brewing process and will be tapped in November or December. There will be a launch party for that beer as well at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, featuring a whole roasted hog and gumbo from Chris Shepherd and Ryan Savoie.
“In Houston’s food and beverage scene, we step up for each other, especially when it matters most,” said Floyd via a press release. “Grant was a friend and a culinary master. If we can do anything to make sure another person doesn’t go through what he did, then we’ve done our job.”
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.