Monday, November 01, 2010

BEERflections ~ Oktoberfest Dinner @ Town Crier Pub

One could argue that it’s not really Fall until the Oktoberfest celebrations begin. A centuries old German tradition, this spirit of festive times, community, good food, and good beer has found itself at home all over the world. Typically one thinks of the Marzen, aka Oktoberfest, when it comes to this holiday’s fermented brew. Malty, caramelized, and sporting a light hop profile, foods galore line up to have a chance at the table together, steins and feet thumping in boisterous cheer. Now imagine if one took that idea one step further, proposing in sophisticated assurance an Oktoberfest Dinner of burgundian proportions.

Fantastic! But how?

That my peeps and peepettes is where the talents who conspire to bring me successful brewmaster dinner after successful brewmaster dinner at Town Crier Pub step up to the challenge. An Oktoberfest dinner with an American craft beer twist, the stage was set to unfold on Monday October 25th at the always fashionable 7pm sharp.

Now if I may have a moment of your time, I’d like to shine a light of appreciation unto these special dinners. Times are tough and rarely anyone is immune, but there is a word to describe the value of these beer dinners at $39.99 + tax & gratuity: supercalifragilisticexpidelilicieuse. Top notch food, beers, and service could not be found near or far. Anywhere else beer dinners woo and seduce, the asking price is easily double, sometimes triple, which is all that much more reason to savor our flavorful fortunes in our bastion of sunny Florida, the Treasure Coast.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program, the Town Crier Pub Oktoberfest Dinner. A dinner never missed and a dinner I never will miss, especially the first ever mixed beer dinner. What I mean by mixed is the beers featured over five courses were from five different breweries. All dinners past featured one brewery while highlighting five chosen beers from their vaunted portfolio. In more ways than one, the twists were going to dazzle and delight as only American craft breweries can in the tender care of the Crier. Working together with Tim Hebeler of JJ Taylor, head chef George Citron crafted five delectable courses with a nod toward German heritage; inspiration was full circle. One unique feature was the gentle progression of burgundian indulgence in order of lesser complexity to greatest complexity. Another first was the inclusion of a salad to said progression of courses and it was here amidst the greenery that my burgundian euphoria climaxed.

Salads are a personal favorite taste treat, but whether George and Tim knew this in the creation of our second course is a mystery of irrelative importance. Fantastically fresh spinach leaves were decked to the nines with crunchy walnuts, tingly creamy grassy goat cheese crumbles, Sauerkraut dressing, and a handmade garlic crustini. Hidden underneath in savory sight was a single slice of Heirloom reds, greens, and yellows. Yours beerly was red, Mike’s green, Paula’s yellow, and suddenly something as seemingly simple as a tomato slice becomes an integral feature of salad perfection. Her partner in flavor was the Kellerweisse from Sierra Nevada. Visually stunning, with each bite a quaff and with each quaff a bite. Soft, nutty, herbal, fruity, bready…it was a seamless procession of flavor harmony until there was no more salad to bite and Kellerweisse to quaff.

The salad was my personal favorite but she had some stiff competition. From the first to the last, it was a practically perfect and inspiring progression of sights, sounds, smells, and flavors.
  • First Course: German onion soup served with a handmade garlic crouton blanketed in swiss cheese and slowly baked in the oven to mouthwatering toasty melty indulgence. The S.O.S./Save Our Shores Pilsner from Abita Brewing provided an equally compelling fusion of herbs, spice, and soft breads.
  • Third Course: tender juicy spicy bratwurst was braised in beautiful butter, onions, and Yuengling than grilled before adorning a toasted Hoagie grinning under the influence of a smoky beer-infused cheddar spread. You could dip your Hoagie bratwurst in a side shmear of spicy brown mustard or indulge it naked. Overall, the bratwurst could have used less Hoagie or an additional slice lengthwise, thus spreading the cheer of tender juicy spicy bratwurst flavors further. The wonderfully malty Dogtoberfest Marzen from Flying Dog Brewing gleamed brilliant embers while her sweetly spicy caramelized apply delights brought unity to all.
  • Fourth Course: veal shanks were braised ALL. DAY. LONG. with rosemary au jus in anticipation of melting in your mouth. Fork, spoon, and spork need not apply; all it took was a look for vealphoria to woo. Served amidst a warm German potato salad, the sour vinegary tang was a worthy match for the funktastic dark Saison from Cigar City Brewing. Aptly named Sea Bass though none were harmed in the brewing of said beer, it was the most palate-challenging beer of the dinner. Earthen, musty, leathery, tannic, tartly sweet plums and black grapes with stems and red wine vinegar, comparisons to Bordeaux could be made in vain for the Sea Bass would steal the show and steal the show it did.
  • Fifth Course: while the last course will always be last, it was in no way least. Handmade pretzels with subtle briny essence were baked than dipped in melted Burgundy Dark Chocolate from Kilwins and topped with a spicy cayenne pepper infused dark chocolate drizzle. Powdered sugar snowed while wild berry compote parried heat with sweet. Her beerly companion was the phenomenal Third Coast Ale from Bells Brewing. An Old Ale of stylish history, dry spice, burnt sugars, plum and black cherry sweetness ended in old wooden casks steeped in spirited warmth for an evening of slow savorance inside and out.


Sharing in our Oktoberfest Dinner was my table of awesomeness as Tara appropriately named it. With friendly faces tried and new, the air buzzed amidst the ebb and flow of indulgent pleasures. I was extra proud to finally welcome Mom and Dad to their first beer dinner at Town Crier Pub, an A+ experience all around according to the always unabashedly honest Dadster. Extra gracious props to Dave and staff for indulging and duly spoiling Mom. You went over and beyond the call of dutiful service. From our hearts to yours, thank you very much.

And so another fantastic dinner was born and had. I haven’t missed one yet and though Town Crier Pub is taking a beer dinner break in anticipation of a new menu roll-out, I’ll be the first on the RSVP list when that horizon crests. Until then, I shall reminisce in cheer and with a beer. Cheers!

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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