Oktoberfest in Mobile

The folks behind Loda Bier Garten test out a few beer-themed recipes on the brewmasters and staff of local craft breweries Haint Blue and Fairhope Brewing Company.


ABOVE LEFT The brewmasters gather around the sampling table. Fairhope Brewing Company’s Jim Foley talks shop with Haint Blue Brewing Company’s Matt Wheeler, with Harbour Stephens and Anna Teachy learning from the pros.

ABOVE RIGHT Dr. Adrien Bodet, the homeowner for the fete and father-in-law to Loda Bier Garten owner Matt Golden, shares a laugh around the grill with Chef Ryan Wilder, the restaurant’s menu advisor, and Golden.

Everyone knows that craft beer is experiencing a renaissance across the country, and the Bay area, though late to the party, is beginning to catch on. Fairhope Brewing Company pioneered the current crop of breweries coming online, as new names follow suit. Bars and restaurants have added local and seasonal offerings to their taps, making ordering a beer about as complicated as choosing a bottle of wine. And tough as the choices may be, there is now a beer on the local market for every taste. Those who turned up their noses at the run-of-the-mill American lagers of yesteryear have now come back to the kegs.

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Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Fall is finally here in south Alabama, and although temperatures may not indicate it yet, it’s time for hearty food and a good cold beer to wash it down. But regardless of the season, it’s always Oktoberfest at Loda Bier Garten. The bar and eatery in downtown Mobile boasts 102 beers on tap, with 30 new brews rotating weekly, claims the largest beer selection in the Southeast.

Owner Matt Golden and business partner David Lee Brush opened the corner eatery on Dauphin Street in 2011 with a menu of strictly authentic German dishes. Golden’s mother was born in Berlin, and a number of the restaurant’s menu items come straight from his great-great-grandmother’s recipe cards. (They had to be translated by someone who understands the old ways of speaking the language.) But as the months went along, Golden sought better ways to incorporate his German ancestry into the menu without being so literal and found a broader appeal by doing so. The pretzels are still made daily from scratch, but the menu has expanded to offer an assortment of other hearty and comforting dishes, including burgers. “We sell the heck out of them, ” says Golden. Mosley’s Meat Market makes a proprietary blend of ground beef just for Loda Bier Garten and delivers daily.

Golden adds that his goal is to be downright offensive with portions. “I mean huge.” The restaurant was recently featured on Food Network’s program Ginormous Foods, and the national attention will certainly help those burgers fly off the grill.

In celebration of the month of beer, Golden and his menu consultant, Chef Ryan Wilder, decided to do some Oktoberfest-themed “menu testing” for new and exciting recipes and then invited a few pals over to enjoy the feast and give feedback. The brewmasters and marketing folks behind two local breweries, Fairhope Brewing Company and Haint Blue Brewing Company, who joined in the fun, said taste-testing recipes was definitely more party than work.

Chef Wilder combined several authentic German flavors with some modern American twists (and a cup or two of local beer for good measure) to create a meal worthy of Oktoberfest, right here on the Gulf Coast.


German Burger

With plenty of bold flavors, this recipe is inspired by Loda Bier Garten owner Matt Golden’s German heritage.

2 pounds fresh ground beef
salt and pepper, to taste
8 slices Swiss cheese
4 brioche hamburger buns, toasted
1/4 cup Gulden’s Spicy Mustard
16 dill pickle slices
1 cup Souped-up Sauerkraut (see below)
1 cup Beer Bacon Gravy (see below)

1. Divide beef into four 8-ounce patties and season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook on preheated grill to desired temperature, adding a slice of cheese to each patty 2 minutes before done.
3. Separate top and bottom buns and spread mustard on the bottom, followed by a layer of pickles. Top with beef patty, sauerkraut and gravy. Add top of bun and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Beer Bacon Gravy

Fairhope Brewing Company’s Amber Ale makes this decadent gravy perfection!

5 strips bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Fairhope Amber Ale
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon spicy mustard
1/4 cup molasses
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, reserving the bacon grease, and chop. Set aside.
2. Add butter and 1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf to the pan and sweat the vegetables. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until a medium-brown roux forms. Add the beer and stock, lower the temperature and simmer until thick.
3. Add curry, ketchup, thyme, mustard and molasses and simmer briefly. Remove bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 3 cups.

Souped-up Sauerkraut

The definition of semi-homemade, this easy recipe marries store-bought sauerkraut with added flavors.

2 tablespoons bacon grease
1 cup finely diced onion
32-ounce jar sauerkraut
6 strips crispy cooked bacon
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Melt bacon grease in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sweat, stirring 5 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes until reduced by half. Serve warm. Makes 4 cups.


This traditional German dish sounds fancy, but it is basically a slice of pork, pounded thin and pan-fried. The rich gravy is the perfect complement to the crispy pork!

1/4 cup butter
2 cups lard (or fat of choice)
2 cups seasoned flour
2 cups seasoned panko crumbs
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1-pound pork loin, divided into 4 pieces and pounded to 1/8 inch thick
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups Beer Bacon Gravy (see above)

1. Heat butter and lard in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
2. Place flour on a large plate and panko on another. Combine egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Season pork with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of pork in flour, followed by eggwash and then panko.
3. Add 2 pieces of pork at a time to the sauté pan and cook 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside while you cook the remaining pieces.
4. Serve warm with a ladle of Beer Bacon Gravy on top. Serves 4.

Hog “Wings”

Everyone knows that pigs can fly, right? If you treat pork shanks just right, you might believe it’s true. Fall-off-the-bone-tender meat gets doused in a spicy buffalo sauce for the perfect beer-pairing appetizer. Eat with your hands and keep a napkin handy.

3 tablespoons clarified butter
12 pork shanks
salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken stock
Buffalo Sauce (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Heat an oven-proof skillet on the stovetop over high heat. Add butter. Season shanks with salt and pepper, and then add to the pan, searing on all sides. Add enough chicken stock to halfway cover the shanks. Remove from heat. Cover pan with aluminum foil and cook in oven until tender, about 3 hours.
3. Remove from oven and finish shanks with a quick roll on a hot grill to crisp the exterior. Serve warm with a drizzle of buffalo sauce. Serves 4 – 6.

Haint Blue Brewing Company IPA Buffalo Sauce

Chef Ryan Wilder whipped up this local riff on buffalo sauce, and the crowd couldn’t stop singing its praises! A little Haint Blue Brewery IPA was the perfect boost of flavor. Loda Bier Garten will be putting it on the menu this fall.

2 cups Haint Blue Brewing Company IPA
2 cups melted butter
2 cups Crystal Hot Sauce

1. In a medium sauce pan, bring Haint Blue IPA to a boil and reduce by half.
2. Add the butter and hot sauce to the pan and simmer until thickened to the point that the sauce holds the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Judge Roy Bean Coffee Chocolate Syrup

Chef Wilder served a decadent dessert of store-bought apple fritters topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and a ladle of this rich chocolate coffee syrup. Make a double batch and store in a jar in the fridge. It’s perfect on just about anything!

12 ounces Fairhope Brewing Company Judge Roy Bean Coffee Stout
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chocolate sauce

1. Add beer to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower heat and cook until reduced by half.
2. Add cream and reduce by half again, being careful not to boil. Add chocolate sauce and serve warm. Makes 1 cup.

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