It’s time, again, for one of my beer pairing dinners up at Hopjacks 9-Mile Road and it turns out that it’s the perfect opportunity for some German food. After all, the end of September is the traditional observance of Oktoberfest.
Since 1994 Oktoberfest has been held for a 16-to17 day schedule ending on October 1st or 2nd as a method of tying in to German Reunification Day. Prior to that, it was a remembrance of the wedding party for King Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The celebration was so popular that they repeated it every year. Eventually it morphed into a fest for the coming of October and the beginning of the fall harvest season.
What has always defined Oktoberfest is a heroic supply of food and beer. Lots and lots of beer. Glass steins of beer like Giada de Laurentis’ head; beautiful but disproportionately sized. As I do a monthly beer dinner at our restaurant on the north side of town – call the office for details and/or reservations, by the way – I’m gearing up to put out a mini-feast to make my German ancestors proud.
We’ll be keeping the beer pours in check to facilitate our guests’ driving home abilities, but the food is going to have people doing double-time at the gym the following weekend. The first course is going to be what I like to call the Oktoberfest Fairgrounds Snack Combo. This will be my hand-rolled pretzel with spiced cheese, Weisswurst – a veal and pork sausage – and sweet mustard. Easy-drinking Hofbräu Lager is the perfect match.
The second course is going to be a fancied-up version of Kartoffelnsuppe; fingerling potato soup garnished with fried sauerkraut and sausage fritters. The beer for this course is my chosen brew of the week for review: Paulaner Oktoberfest. We’ll come back to that in a minute.
Third course is Schweinebraten, or pork roast if you prefer, with brown butter & caraway braised cabbage, Käsespätzle (cheese dumplings) and pan gravy. The rich, malty presence of Augustiner Maximator Dopplebock will pair wonderfully here.
Even dessert gets its own beer. Here I’m pairing Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier with Lebkuchen – in this case as a gingerbread cookie – hazelnut cream and strawberry sauce.
That Paulaner Oktoberfest I mentioned is an amazing beer. Caramel malt with hints of vanilla, brown sugar and raisin end up all over the nose and palate without ever feeling heavy. Excellent on a cool day in fall, it’s going to be brilliant with the potato soup.
There are only a few seats left for this dinner. 7 PM Thursday, September 26. Call 497-6076 for details. If you miss this, don’t worry. Hopjacks Filling Station is having Oktoberfest food and beer all weekend long.