Community members tasted small seafood plates from The Depot while sampling craft beers Monday night at The Depot’s first beer walkabout.
“It’s more of a social event,” said Richard Tomasello, general manager at The Depot. “We have different stations set up with different beers and small bites to complement those beers.”
Guests visited three stations throughout the restaurant. There were two breweries featured Monday that brought three beers each. The breweries each had a table with two beers with a small plate and a beer at the bar with a larger plate, Tomasello said.
“It’s fun as a change of pace,” Tomasello said. “We get a lot of the same people that come to the wine dinners and they’ve given us feedback that they like the more social event every now and then.”
Guests had a beer glass,which they were given at the door, filled at one of the three stations. Guest then sampled the beer with the small plate paired with it.
The Depot Executive Chef Scott Simpson helped to create the food pairings for each of the six beers. The Depot specializes in seafood, so he was sure to incorporate seafood throughout the offerings Monday night.
“We’re featuring a lot of things that we have on our menu from time to time and we’re also doing a couple of things that we don’t always have to try and get feedback,” Tomasello said.
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At the station for each of the breweries, Simpson created a pairing for each of the two beers featured there. Goat Island Brewing’s table featured bigeye tuna and house seafood sausages.
“These are the house seafood sausages,” Simpson said. “It’s skewered with pretzels. It’s on homemade, local vidalia onion and mustard we made this morning.”
At Wild Heaven Beer’s table Simpson featured the scallops that are offered regularly on their menu and a dish they tried out Monday night, a Banh Mi pork sandwich.
Simpson then paired a gumbo with the beer from each of the two breweries that was featured at the bar.
“The gumbo upfront [at the bar] is our signature dish,” Simpson said. “We just do it with a cocktail crab to give it a little upgraded seafood feature.”
The breweries that were featured Monday night were chosen because their beers are new to the Auburn market. Both representatives from the breweries also have strong ties to Auburn.
John Dean, vice president of marketing and co-founder of Goat Island Brewing, attended Auburn for several years and has children that are Auburn graduates.
“The Depot is one of the nicest restaurants in Auburn,” Dean said. “We do a lot of business with their sister company The Hound. Our beer is a Richter’s Pilsner, a pre-prohibition German pilsner from the 1800s, much like the building.”
The Richter’s Pilsner, one the beers featured Monday, is what started the company. Dean was an insurance agent during the April 27, 2011, tornadoes that wreaked havoc throughout Alabama.
Two years after the tornado, Dean received a call from a client that thought he found a beer recipe while cleaning up his father’s furniture store from the tornado.
“It was written inside the front cover,” Dean said. “Inside the back cover was a page that, what caught my eye, says ‘makes 32 gallons of good beer.’ And Mr. William Richter signed it.”
From there Dean worked with three other men to begin brewing.
Goat Island Brewing also brought a German Hefeweizen beer called ‘Peace, Love, and Hippieweizen’ and a malty amber to red ale called the ‘Sipsey River Red.’
Wild Heaven Beer's, the other brewery present Monday, President and Co-founder, Nick Purdy, is a 1993 Auburn graduate.
“It’s really super fun to come back to Auburn and talk about this brand that we’ve created,” Purdy said. “I really want us to do well in Auburn. It’s meaningful to me to do well in the town that I got my education in."
Wild Heaven wanted to participate in Monday's event because they joined the Auburn market in April 2018.
“We have this one beer called ‘Emergency Drinking Beer,’” Purdy said. “Which is our probably most well-known beer. It’s in a bright yellow can and just says in black letters ‘Emergency Drinking Beer.’ So that one kind of paves the way for a lot of things we do.”
Wild Heaven Beer didn’t bring their ‘Emergency Drinking Beer’ Monday night but they did bring ‘White Blackbird,’ a Belgian-style saison, ‘Invocation,’ a Belgian-style golden ale and ‘Wise Blood IPA,’ a India pale ale.
When crafting their beers, they try to consider what food would go well with their beers.
“We had a chance to visit The Depot when we were first entering the market,” Purdy said. “We were just so impressed with the beautiful space, their food and their approach to how they really care about ‘we don’t just want beer, we want good beer that goes with the food.’”
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