Beer Dinner #1
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Wednesday, May 25th
We were fortunate enough to be invited to a four course dinner hosted by World Class Beverages last month at the The Oceanaire Indianapolis. We paired two beers with each course. My three colleagues along with myself had a fantastic night that not only captured our sense of sight, but surprised and excited the palate. The pairings also offered enticing aromas that exploded from our glasses and plates while constantly perfuming the air throughout the event.
Reception Beers: Grolsch and Brooklyn Brewing Summer Ale were the two beers that we were welcomed with as we arrived. It was a particularly muggy day outside and both of these beers were a refreshing treat as we walked out of the unseasonably warm spring air.
First Course: Ahi Tuna Poke with Crispy Wontons, Cucumbers & Wasabi Emulsion
Beers Paired: Blue Moon Grand Cru/Three Floyd’s Rabbid Rabbit
This course was all about elegance and refinement. The tuna was incredibly fresh and delicate. The wonton added some interesting crunch to contrast the silky smooth texture of the thinly sliced cucumber. And then there was the wasabi emulsion, which kicked everything up a notch. The beers for this course were on the lighter end of the color spectrum, but still possessed some weight on the palate. The Blue Moon Grand Cru was from 2009 and showed some age on it. It seemed to be an Imperial Belgian Wit that had some orange and coriander aromas along with its softly rounded malt driven mouth feel. Three Floyd’s Rabid Rabbit is a Franco-Belgian style Farmhouse Ale that has an effervescent body and a light straw color. With its light malt body, augmented by spices, is a complex and frothy beverage with deceptively high alcohol content. Unfortunately, we’re sold out of this lovely offering, but we’ll have it again next March. Both of these beers were solid pairings, but my palate leaned toward the fresher and more complex layers of the Rabid Rabbit.
Second Course: Jumbo Shrimp & White Cheddar Grits
Beers Paired: Pilsner Urquell/Brasserie d’ Achouffe Houblon Doebbelen IPA Tripel
For those of you that know me well, you know that I moonlight at the Oceanaire as a server part time. This appetizer course is absolutely one of my favorites that we offer. I don’t know how many of you enjoy grits, but the plate presentation is brilliant as they lay a hand formed ball of grits in the center and gently place four jumbo shrimp around the bowl. Then the bowl is lightly drizzled with a savory tomato based ragu and freshly diced tomatoes. The Pilsner Urquell showed brilliantly with this dish. The soft malt and moderately bitter finish set up wonderfully with the slightly firm texture of the grits along with contrasting the mildly spicy jumbo shrimp. Our second beer was the Chouffe Houblon. This beer was brewed for the first time in 2006. It is an ‘Indian Pale Ale’ type of beer, with a harmonious balance between a marked bitterness and a pleasant fruitiness that lingers in harmony with the bone dry finish. It is unfiltered and re-fermented in the bottle, which will allow the beer to evolve and develop in the bottle over time. If you like it fresh and the hops at the forefront drink immediately after purchase, but if you like things a little more balanced, just wait a few months and the hops will fade a bit. The malt and yeast aromas will become more pronounced after the wait. I would say that this ale might have been a little too heavy and bitter for the dish it was paired with, but I was a fan of just drinking it after I finished the course. It is remarkably refreshing for a beer that has an ABV of 9%.
Third Course: Blackened Grilled Hawaiian Marlin with Carmelized Onions & Bleu Cheese Butter
Beers Paired: Blue Moon Pale Ale/Duvel Triple Hop
This main entrée is another one of my favorites to offer while serving. The layered flavors of the seasonings, firm textured fish, sweet onions along with the pungent and highly acidic bleu cheese makes my salivary glands pray to the lord for this creation. Our two ales here were in stark contrast to each other. The Blue Moon Pale Ale had well defined aromas and flavors of caramel as a result of those types of malts used in its brewing process. It paired up nicely with the carmelized onions and lent itself to a contrasting component to the Cajun spices the marlin had been dredged in before grilling. The Duvel Triple Hop was much paler in color, but had a highly acidic side to it as one might expect from “Triple Hop” in its name. This highly carbonated ale positioned itself differently against the prep by cutting through the richness of the marlin and Cajun spices. It also had this wonderful relationship with the bleu cheese that I didn’t expect initially, but as they worked together with one another on my palate I was blown away. This pairing was probably my second favorite of the night.
Fourth Course: Chocolate Cake with Hand Made Whipped Cream & Macadamia Nuts
Beers Paired: Leinenkugel Big Eddy Imperial Stout/Three Floyd’s Dark Lord 2011
Well, if you’re into decadence, this was easily at the farthest end of that spectrum without question. Chocolate and Imperial Stouts are a perfect pairing in my mind. The intense chocolate aromas of these massive ales are wonderful companions to anything that involves chocolate or coffee. Both the Big Eddy and the Dark Lord possess the characteristics I’ve just described. However, the Bid Eddy was on the lighter end of the Imperial Stout mouth feel spectrum, while the Dark Lord was as viscous as the oldest motor oil you’ve ever seen. I would say the Dark Lord was by far my favorite beer of the night and this was the most magnificently paired course of the night.
I can’t express how thankful I am to be on the receiving end of such gracious hospitality. I would strongly encourage all Hoosiers to venture out to The Oceanaire Indianapolis for a remarkable dining experience and please visit World Class Beverages and check out super cool features like Beer Spy and Beer U. The Beer Spy feature helps you find a certain beer at specific retail or restaurant locations by entering your zip code and the proximity for your shopping needs, but of course, you can always shop with us at Kahn's Fine Wines Beer for all of your craft beer needs. The Beer U program is new and if you’re interested in educating yourself further about craft beer it is a wonderful resource.
I’m certainly looking forward to attending and hosting many more wonderful beer pairing dinner events in the near future and would like to invite all of our highly valued Kahn’s customers as we continue to expand our event offerings throughout the rest of the calendar year. Make sure you sign up for our weekly e-mails and if you don’t receive the Khronicle it’s got the listing of the current month’s events on the cover.
Until we cheers again!
W. Brennan Corder