OHB Beer Dinner
By Bobby Bush
When Olde Hickory Brewery co-owner Steven Lyerly first showed me his proposed menu for our January 19 beer dinner, it was immediately obvious that this, the 4th in a series of Suds Brewer Presents beer dinner productions, would be something special. And it was.
This zymurgical gastronomical feast was unique in several ways. First, the menu itself included beer as an ingredient in all five courses, even dessert. Second, it was the first of the beer dinners to serve all-draft beer. And third, it was a near sell-out. With 47 in attendance, it topped previous beer dinners' attendance by more than 50%.
As folks arrived for this Sunday afternoon Olde Hickory Brewery Beer Dinner, held in downtown's Olde Hickory Tap Room, samples of mead, from North Carolina's only meadery, Desi's Dew, were offered in greeting. The Rougemont (north of Durham) meadery produces sparkling mead (often called honey wine) in two flavors: raspberry and wildflower. (See desidew.com - mail order within the state)
With everyone seated in the non-smoking room, dinner service commenced. A spicy Low Country Boil, consisting of andouille sausage, shrimp, crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes and onions, all boiled in OHB Crawdad Red Ale with Cajun spices, was an special start to an unusual evening. Previous beer dinners began with a light appetizer or soothing soup, accompanied by a light tasting and low bodied beer. This night's spicy first course was escorted by OHB Paddy's Irish Stout, a smooth, rich and complex brew that provided perfect heat-extinguishing counterpoint.
Topped with lilting OHB Hefe-weizen Dressing, a crisp lettuce garden salad was paired with a pint of Crawdad Red Ale. Somewhat smoky, Apple Cheese Soup was made with and served with Ruby Lager, a sweetish malty treat. The entrée, course four for those of you who are counting, was a savory Pork Rulauden. Lightly breaded and stuffed with ham and cheese, the pork loin was broiled in OHB Piedmont Pilsner Sauce. This light European-style lager was also beer number four. A side of extremely tasty German Potato Salad was almost as good as the pork itself. We suggested to Steven that the potato salad would make a nice addition to Olde Hickory Tap Room's regular menu.
Just when we moaned for no more, slices of OHB Table Rock Pale Ale Chocolate Nut Cake, an original OHB creation as was the Apple Cheese Soup, made their way to our boisterous tables. The questionable concept of cake made with beer was in almost everyone's mind. Concerned looks gave way to smiles with the first bites. Moist and chocolaty, served with OHB Christmas Ale, the cake disappeared quickly. The seasonal ale, spiced with cinnamon, ginger and orange zest, worked well with the subtle chocolate cake's nuances.
With meal served and patrons satisfied, co-owner Jason Yates left the heat of the kitchen and stood along side Lyerly for a well-deserved round of applause from the appreciative beer diners. Food, beer and service had been impeccable. Excellent restaurant managers, Steven and Jason outdid themselves. It was a truly remarkable presentation of food and beer!
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush