"The life of the party at a beefsteak used to be the man who let out the most ecstatic grunts, drank the most beer, ate the most steak and got the most grease on his ears." So wrote North Carolina native and renowned author Joseph Mitchell, whose 1939 opus in The New Yorker, "All You Can Hold For Five Bucks," chronicled the history of the beefsteak, "a form of gluttony as stylized and regional as the riverbank fish fry, the hot rock clambake or the Texas barbeque."
Bull City Burger and Brewery (www.bullcityburgerandbrewery.com) is continuing the tradition, which may have begun as early as the 1870s, with its Beefsteak Octoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 17. (Germany's traditional Octoberfest begins the day before.) Sorry veg-heads, this one's strictly for the carnivores. For $45, diners get an unlimited meat buffet and two pints of the brewery's seasonal Octoberfest lager Stierstadt (apparently "Bull City" in German).
Brewer Luke Studer says it's a traditional mrzen-style beer brewed in one batch: "It's nice and malty, not a lot of hops to it. When it's done, it's gone for the year." Skirt steak, offal, lamb and sausage from Farmhand Foods are a part of the unlimited meal. Studer thinks the special brew pairs best with the sausage, but finding the best meat and beer pairings is, for him, "a daily task." He's got some great tips: "One of my favorites was when [head chef] Zach [Faulisi] did a BCBB of the week with duck fries, truffle aioli, bacon marmalade, Gruyère cheese and an egg on it. Very rich and decadent. I had it with our porter, so it stood up to that flavor. Take a bite and your mouth is overwhelmed; take a couple sips and you're ready for another bite."
The event, which benefits Habitat for Humanity of Durham, has seatings at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Make reservations at the BCBB website. It also will feature an outside stage with live music. Go ahead and request "My Wild Irish Rose." It was a favorite back in the day. "At the old beefsteaks, they almost always had storytellers, men who would entertain with stories in Irish and German dialect," Mitchell wrote. "And when the people got tired of eating and drinking ... They would harmonize 'My Wild Irish Rose' until they got their appetite back."
In Raleigh the following Saturday, Sept. 24, Roth Brewing Co. (www.rothbrewing.com) celebrates its second annual Wing Fest. For $5, you get a commemorative pint glass and all-you-can-eat wings. The self-proclaimed rebellious brewers will be unveiling this season's Forgotten Hollow cinnamon porter, along with a funny "home-wing" contest. Details: "We are also having a competition among home-wingers for the best private wings in Raleigh, NO BRIBES ACCEPTED." (And here I was thinking I could show up with an alluring vat of blue cheese dressing.) For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home brews have hopped onto the local scene in full force. While taking in the art walk at Golden Belt this month, I had the chance to try a tart and tangy pineapple Hefeweizen at LabourLove Gallery offered up by Durham home brewer Jason Salemme. The BrewDurham Homebrew Benefit for The Scrap Exchange (www.brewdurham.com) is slated for Oct. 15 and is now accepting entries.
Never flexed your brewing muscle? The Cookery in Durham has launched a slew of culinary workshops featuring favorite local businesses, including Beginning Brewing 101: Brewing With Extract on Your Stovetop led by Rick Tufts, head brewer and owner of Triangle Brewing Co. The introductory course on Sept. 24 gives beginners a chance to try their beer three weeks later at the Triangle brewery. Visit www.durhamcookery.com for more details and to sign up.
Playing up on all the food-photo folly circulating the Internet, two friends in Raleigh launched Brews With a View (www.brewswithaview.com) last year, a website dedicated to "human-less" photos of beer in exotic and hometown locales. Daniel Whittaker says: "We started getting pics from people nobody knew, people started finding out we started the page and commenting on who they were and what BWAV they sent in, and then the foreign country pics started rolling in. So far we have 750 fans that we didn't market to and it keeps growing." He started the page with Stephanie Bogue, who manages The Pour House Music Hall, in October after enjoying a pint at Boylan Bridge Brewpub. Can your experience top the beer on Mount Kilimanjaro? Like them on Facebook and upload a snapshot.