The hotel is hosting its first Oktoberfest, Sept. 30 from 5:30—8 p.m.
“After the success of Aprilfest, I wanted to host one more beer-tasting event and give our community a chance to taste fun and great beer, and pay homage to the real Oktoberfest but make it very relevant to Southern cuisine,” said Leonardo Maurelli, the catering and events chef at the Hotel at Auburn University.
According to Maurelli, the event will feature a number of local and regional breweries. Beer enthusiasts will be able to taste 20 different beers that will be paired with a small plate to highlight the flavors of each beer.
“I am passionate about all things ‘Alabama’—our cuisine, our breweries, our produce to cheese to anything that is from this beautiful state,” Maurelli said. “I feel that for a long time so many people have taken what we do here naturally and done a great job of showcasing it. However, I feel it’s time for Alabama chefs and artisans to highlight and promote ourselves and our products.”
The breweries featured at this event come from Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia to showcase their finest beers. The breweries included are Back Forty Beer Company, SweetWater Brewing Company, Abita Beer, Blue Pants Brewery, Tallgrass Brewing Company, Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer Brewing.
Maurelli will be preparing each dish for the event.
“I really want to showcase who we are and what we do here in Alabama,” Maurelli said. “I have an Italian and Latino background, and I have been in Alabama since ’91. So it’s fusion of old world techniques with highlights from my family’s influence and total respect for the cuisine of the South.”
Some of the items on the menu will include dishes such as braised chicken thighs and guava wontons paired with the Naked Pig from the Back Forty Beer Company. Another option is crispy pork belly quesadilla, pico de gallo with grilled okra, tomatillo and roasted corn served with Monkeynaut from Straight to Ale.
“I try really hard to create dishes that highlight the notes and flavors of each beer,” Maurellia said. “Much like wine, beer is a product that can really accentuate the flavors of each product used. I taste and write the flavors that come to mind on a piece of paper, and then I begin to weave a pattern of flavor, texture, color and relevance to each beer.”
Music for the event will be provided by local artist Patrick Bruce. Bruce teaches guitar full time for Opelika High School, but said he also enjoys playing locally for different venues.
“I think everyone should support local music,” Bruce said. “It’s important to keep local musicians working. If we do that, we can keep good music in Auburn.”