Three fine local restaurants — Carolina's, Ted's Butcherblock, and Laura Alberts Tasteful Options — hosted big beer dinners last week. Each offered an array of ales and lagers and eclectic menus designed by their chefs and kitchen teams.
Carolina's Head Chef Jeremiah Bacon has made August his annual pairing between Palmetto Brewing Co. and the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. On Wed. Aug. 25, he offered five courses of local seafood with five samples from the local microbrewery, including this year's Watermelon Wheat ale (part of the brewery's new Bocat line of seasonal beers), and sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released Brown Ale.
Charleston Beer Exchange co-owner Rich Carley was on hand. "The dinner was great — one of the best they've hosted," he reported. "The head-on shrimp was my favorite course. The brown ale was new. It's super young with a very big juicy grapefruit hop character. I loved it, but it won't stay like this for long ... we'll see how it develops."
Ted's Butcherblock served a surprisingly light and flavorful beer dinner on Thurs. Aug. 26. All four courses were served chilled alongside ice-cold beer. Owner Ted Dombrowski, head chef Eva Keilty, and Charleston Beer Exchange co-owner Scott Shor presented the feast. Course one was a chilled mussel salad with crusty bread and crisp and malty Jever pilsner (from Germany). A robust and savory house-made country pâté came wrapped in bacon alongside a pile of sweet pickled carrot ribbons and a refreshing glass of local brewery COAST's 32/50 Kölsch (a German-style pale ale). The chilled, very tender paprikash beef teres major — sliced thin — arrived with fragrant dill chick peas and a low-strength Belgian-made Dupont Avril ale. The dessert course featured a peach/pistachio cake gelato garnished with muscadines, thyme cookies, and Kennerty Farms honey. Samuel Smith's Cherry Ale was almost too sweet to complement the delicate flavors of the rich dish, but no one complained.
Beer manager Les Addis, from AdVintage Fine Wines & Craft Brews, and owner Karen Elsey co-hosted the elegant Southern Tier beer dinner at Laura Alberts on Fri. Aug. 27. Head Chef Matt Brigham served a four-course menu with some of the latest specialty ales and lagers from the New York microbrewery. Everything was delicious and cleverly paired. A perfectly seared, herb-crusted yellow fin tuna arrived on a disc of watermelon, garnished with feta, oregano infused oil, and red pepper coulis. Southern Tier's citrusy Hopsun wheat ale — an American-style wheat with a big dose of hops — matched the subtle fruitiness and spice notes of the dish. Up next was an orange zest infused duck pâté with gorgonzola stuffed, beer-battered figs and arugula, paired with Farmers Tan Imperial Pale Lager (9 percent a.b.v.). The horseradish-crusted beef short ribs with succotash was a highlight, paired with the high-gravity Oak-Aged Unearthly IPA (9.5 percent a.b.v.). The popular blend of coffee and chocolate flavors ran through the final course of tiramisu (with a big blackberry on the side) and Southern Tier's new coffee/chocolate hybrid Mokah Imperial Stout (a blend of the brewery's Choklat Imperial Chocolate Stout and the Jah*va Imperial Coffee Stout). The ale was jet-black with huge roasted malt and bitter chocolate flavor and aroma — an assertive conclusion to a terrific meal.