Abita dinner @ Flying Saucer

Thursday night I attended the Abita beer dinner at the Flying Saucer featuring Cajun and Creole food. I got a $5 discount on the price of the dinner for being a member of their UFO Club. They shut down the Garden for two hours and laid white tablecloths. I took a seat next to my friends Eddie and Jake, and found an Abita beer guide describing each of Abita’s beers in-depth.

General manager Kirk welcomed everyone, and then introduced regional beer rep Shawn, who was our host for the Abita dinner.

After a brief introduction, the servers started bringing out the first course. Prior to the dinner, Ciara had rounded up the regulars and said, “You have to sit at my table,” which was fine because it was the one with the window view.

First course: Char-grilled oyster and Abita Andygator

I was happy to see Andygator, because it is one of my favorite beers. Last summer when I went on a business trip to New Orleans, Saucer server Lil’ Kim made a list of things I had to try, and Andygator was on there. It has since made its way to Memphis, and has become my second-most-consumed beer at the Saucer, after Dos Equis Lager. With 8.0% ABV for $4.50 a glass, it’s an excellent value.

Second course: Gumbo and Abita Amber

Okay, they cheated a little. The gumbo came from their sister restaurant the Flying Fish down the street. I didn’t have a problem with it though; the Fish makes good gumbo.

Third course: Flank steak with crawfish and mashed potatoes, with Abita Jockamo IPA

The third course was my favorite by far. They gave us a generous portion of flank steak cooked medium rare, topped with a crawfish sauce. Creamy mashed potatoes were on the side. The steak was delicious and called for a beverage with some “oomph” to complement it. Jockamo IPA was a good call.

Fourth course: Abita Purple Haze and beignets

Beignets were surprisingly good (I had no idea the Saucer knew how to make them) and paired well with Purple Haze.

Fifth course: Abita Root Beer float

My only complaint about the root beer float is that it didn’t come in a 32 oz. Big Gulp cup. I wolfed down the float in record time.

Dessert beer: Abita Turbo Dog

If Turbo Dog had been planned as a part of the menu, you’d see a rant in this space. Many of the regulars consider Turbo Dog to be the worst of all of the Saucer’s 200 beers. It wasn’t supposed to be on the menu, though. Abita is brewing a specialty beer to celebrate its 25th anniversary, with vanilla beans and high alcohol content. It was supposed to be the closing beer for the dinner, but it wasn’t ready in time.

Overall, I’d give the beer dinner 4 stars out of 5. I had a very good time, enjoyed the food, and was glad I bought a ticket. However, I have to deduct a star for three reasons:

1) Other than opening remarks, the Abita rep really didn’t guide us through the dinner. He didn’t talk about each beer, how it is brewed and why it pairs well with the accompanying food.

2) Abita brews many beers (somewhere around 17 I think), the majority of which are not available locally. I wish some of the ones not commonly seen in Memphis had been brought up for the dinner. After all, Abita Springs is only a 5 1/2 hour drive… give us reasons to come visit!

3) I just can’t give five stars to a menu that includes Turbo Dog, planned or not.

Those minor criticisms aside, though, I still highly recommend you buy a ticket the next time the Saucer has a beer dinner. Beer is said to pair with food even better than wine does, and this and the previous dinners demonstrated that fact well.

In other Saucer news: They’re giving away a bike.

Drink Magic Hat products to enter to win this orange and black bike, to be given away Halloween night. Since Halloween is on a Monday, most of the parties will happen Saturday the 29th, and you can get to the Saucer to see if you won while drinking some Pint Nite beer.

I’ve got enough news items to do a “Saturday update” post, so check back in a while. I’ve got to get it done before the Hogs play at 11 though.