Guy Fieri is Bringing Flavortown to the High Seas

Carnival Cruise Line has announced a delicious addition to its onboard offerings: Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse|Brewhouse, a leveled-up version of his original Pig & Anchor which debuted on the Carnival Magic last year, this time complete with an onsite craft brewery. The shipboard brewpub will debut on the also brand new Carnival Horizon, which sets out on its maiden voyage on April 2, 2018. The ship is scheduled to arrive at U.S. shores in May.

We spoke to Fieri about his new venture, which he announced at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas on October 11. The announcement coincided with the fair’s “Carnival’s BBQ Challenge with Guy Fieri” event, pitting children from the local 4H Club against each other to create Pig & Anchor inspired barbecue recipes. Carnival will award three young finalists with a free cruise, along with donating $20,000 to the 4H Club of Texas.

Fieri, famous for his long list of restaurants, television shows, cookbooks, and yes, his trademark platinum-spiked hair, said the smokehouse brewhouse concept is the result of one of the “culinary jam sessions” between himself and the Carnival team.

The brewhouse will be helmed by brewmaster, Colin Presby, who has been heading up brewing operations on the Carnival Vista’s RedFrog Pub & Brewery since its launch last year. As Men’s Journal reported last year, the onboard brewpub was the first of its kind in the U.S.

“Why haven’t we done this 20 years ago?” Fieri wondered shortly before the announcement on Wednesday. “It’s a perfect fitting. Handcrafted smoked meat with handcrafted beers is a fantastic way to do it. Colin Presby has got the magic ticket.”

The smokehouse brewhouse will combine Fieri’s signature barbecued meat dishes—brisket custom-smoked for 12 hours, Memphis-style baby back ribs, dry-rubbedand grill-finished chicken, pulled pork, cedar-smoked salmon—and these are smoked on site with a real wooden smoker, Fieri added, an impressive feat for a cruise ship kitchen which typically rely on electric appliances.

Presby, who looks forward to expanding Carnival’s brewery program onboard the Horizon, said the barbecue-ready brews will build on the same basic flavor profiles as the beers he’s created for RedFrog, but will offer “a whole new approach to the same category,” featuring all new recipes tailormade to fit Fieri’s famous “real deal” barbeque menu.

Beer and food pairing being a rising trend among U.S. beer lovers and culinary adventurers, both Fieri and Presby believe the smokehouse brewhouse concept will hit home with Carnival customers.

“I firmly believe that, even though food and wine gets more attention, food and beer is much more versatile and offers more synergy,” Presby said.

“The great thing about beer is it’s got so many different facets,” said Fieri, who named Lagunitas and Russian River Brewing Company as inspirations, and admitted to both successful and unsuccessful attempts at brewing his own beer in the past. To marry flavors of beer with food, “you want things that complement and contrast, and you can achieve both of those really well with beer.”

“To be able to make your own beer and to make it on-site is what really takes it to the next level,” he added. “On a ship? I mean, come on.”

Fieri summed up his gratitude to Carnival, Presby and brewers everywhere with a golf analogy: “Once you play [golf] and you come to understand the game, then you have an amazing respect and admiration for the professional. It’s the same when you make beer. Once you have a chance to try to make beer, or even get in the realm of making beer, you understand that those that make beer, what craftsmen they really are. I think once you come to that realization, and that awareness, that’s when you can really come to embrace it and appreciate it.”

Specific beer brands have not yet been finalized, but Presby hinted at “something for the hop head, something a little easier drinking, something more malty, and one big, bold dark beer.”

As for an ideal pairing, Fieri said, “St. Louis style rib, no sauce, dry rubbed, good smoke, not falling off the bone but good chew, with a nice IPA that’s got some good sweetness with bitter balance. That’s the way I’d like to roll.”