Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cru Crushes The Ballast Point Beer Dinner

The craft beer business is booming and so are events that feature it, including beer dinners. Most foodie-types are intimately familiar with wine dinners, however, many have the belief that drinking beer with multiple courses of food would be way too filling.

If that is you, you haven't met Chef Bob Boye at Cru in Fort Myers, FL. This beer lover prepared a beautiful seven course tasting menu that left guests wanting more, rather than feeling over served and bloated.

The courses were small bites and the Ballast Point beers were manageable tasting pours, just the right amount. Sometimes dinners like this offer big portions and big pours, which are nice, but by the last course I often find my taste buds getting weary, my belly expanding and my cell phone handy for an Uber ride home.

Not only was this perfect in portions, but pairings.

In our first course, the batter hugging each Apalachicola oyster was made with the same Longfin Lager it was served with. The Beer was light with citrus, a crisp, pleasant pairing with the salty fried oyster.

Longfin Battered Apaloachicola Oysters
Octopus, tender deliciously prepared octopus, was the star of the second course. It was served over a Meyer Lemon and strawberry marmalade. The Even Keel Session IPA had a bitter aroma and a bitter finish that was fun with the all of the flavors on the plate, including the nutty and bitter arugula. There was a bit of pepper that a was a beautiful compliment to the strawberry. A favorite course for many at my table.

Grilled Octopus
Next up was a fabulous gulf shrimp escabeche. The sweet shrimp with a nice snap, contrasted with the spicy chimichurri gelee it was served with. This was a great combo of texture and flavors that held up to the Grunion American Pale Ale. It had a pungent nose and flavors of orange peel.

The miso seared black grouper with hazelnut broth and sticky rice (4th course) actually tasted better with the beer than on its own...that's the magic of the pairing. The Calico Amber Ale smelled and tasted like caramel, with a pleasing bit of toast.

Miso seared Black Grouper
The smoked olive oil scallop sous vide was another table favorite. The char was perfect, the grilled grapefruit offered nice acidity and the thai basil brought it home. Served with Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, the beer also had a hint of pineapple. It's grapefruit flavors were even more pronounced with the food

Smoked Olive Oil Scallop
Course six brought the heat. Maryland blue crab & habanero, served over greens and with the Habanero Sculpin IPA. If you like it hot, you will love this is not subtle.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night and one of my favorites was dessert. The curry and dark chocolate soufflé with toasted coconut was incredible. Add to it the Indra Kunindra Curry Export Stout and this blew me away. It's nose was intoxicating and inviting. I could taste curry, cayenne, and lots of cumin. This was a perfect pairing and nothing I would have ever thought to try on my own.

Curry & Dark Chocolate SoufflĂ© 
Although wine still has my heart, I'm becoming more and more impressed with the craft beers I've been tasting, their complexities, layers of flavors and the how well they work with food. Many of these beers I would not drink on their own, they NEED food in my opinion.....just like some wines.

Congratulations Chef, Austin from Ballast Point and the entire staff of Cru for putting on a well thought out and executed beer dinner that converted many of my fellow "wine snobs" who were in attendance. CHEERS!

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