The fall season brings another wonderful Oktoberfest-themed beer dinner event at Carolina's (10 Exchange St.) on Wed. Oct. 28. Last year, Chef Jeremiah Bacon and local distributor Carolina Craft presented a five-course feast paired with five selections from the very old Weihenstephan brewery in southern Bavaria. This year, the five-course event comes paired with another acclaimed Bavarian brewery — Ayinger Brauerei, located in the town of Aying, just a few miles north of the Munich area.
Ayinger beers are characterized by a pronounced maltiness (in flavor and aroma) — accented more than many of the beers from the major Munich breweries. Ayinger uses a significant portion of locally-grown barley and wheat to produce their beers. According to Ayinger's Export Manager, Gertrud Hein-Eickhoff, the brewery uses only the finest ingredients. The water comes from the brewery's own well, and the hops come from the famous Hallertau region of north-central Bavaria, and Spalt, an area near Nuremberg.
Two lagers and three ales are on the Carolina's menu this week. The pale and spicy Ayinger Brau-Weisse (a traditional wheat beer) accompanies the first course of sautéed scallops with savoy cabbage and apricot mustard. The Ayinger Weizen Bock — winter seasonal that's slightly stronger in malt flavor and in alcohol content (7.1 % a.b.v.) comes with a country-style pork terrine (pig's liver) and apples.
The third course welcomes the first of the lagers: the acclaimed Oktober Fest-Marzen ("a March beer," available in the fall). Full-bodied with a caramel-malt accent, the beer brewed and lagered to celebrate Bavaria's famous Oktoberfest. This Ayinger lager is served with a house-made bratwurst with leeks and a whole-grain mustard sauce. The Ayinger Ur-Weisse Dunkel — a dark, unfiltered, traditional wheat beer — comes alongside a seared duck breast, spätzle (dumplings), and mustard greens. The dessert of cheesecake with a gingersnap crust is paired with the mighty Celebrator Dopplebock, a hefty, dark drown "double-strength" bock with a deep maltiness and a slightly-higher alcoholic strength (only 6.7% a.b.v.).
Chef Bacon and his kitchen staff are already well-known for their excellent culinary skills. With what should be another successful and delicious beer dinner like this, their reputation for pairing and utilizing beer with their food will surely expand.
Carolina's October Beer Dinner takes place on Wed. Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at Carolina's Restaurant. The price is $55 per person, including beer and exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required. Call Carolina's at (843) 724-3800.