Grits Fullerton Changes the Beer Dinner Game

A grit can be described as a small stone, just big enough to count with the naked eye. It can also be used to describe backbone, big enough to pull off a packed $135 per sitting beer dinner in downtown Fullerton…at a brunch spot…a few days before Christmas. Stone? Yeah, there was Stone, eight of them to be exact.

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For the price tag, Grits Fullerton had a lot to live up to. I went in thinking it needed flow, cloth napkins, and extended pinkies. I thought, we would all get to dive into Stone’s cellar and come out like masked robbers. Having been to two chef Cody Storts beer dinners and two “Dr.” Bill Sysak pairing events, I know the madness both are capable of.

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When the first beer is 2008 Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barleywine at 11%, the tone has been set. This isn’t going to be a hoity-toity affair. This is going to be a feast.

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Stone’s brand ambassador, “Dr.” Bill Sysak, ruled the beer side. Chef Cody mans the Christmas bush.

Various animals, grains and vegetables are shuffled and hit the table like a no-limit poker game. Plates like cards, beer glasses like poker chips. Do I go all-in or fold?

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Course 2 – cajun octopus with a dazzling candied citrus. tequila barrel aged cali-belgique IPA played off the citrus like a margie.

Amuse #1 and #2 down the hatch, “now the fun begins,” yells chef to applause. Smoked trout rillettes paired with Matt’s Burning Rosids, an imperial smoked saison, is served. I’ve seen this beer pulled out for a few events over the years and is drinking beautifully. RIP Matt, always glad to remember a comrade, your burning rosids beer and rillettes didn’t leave much for the dish cleaning crew…it was my fave of the night!

Course 3, total favesies

Course 3 didn’t look like much, but smoked trout rillettes totally won my heart. If this is on the brunch menu, I’ll take a bowl please.

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Sold out beer dinner from a brewery that won’t sell out. Not the case for the next one!

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Only thing missing is ping pong balls. With 8 courses, six ounce pours and an average ABV of 9.5%, I craved an intermezzo beer like a jump in the pool after being in the hot tub for too long.

Let’s talk about the meat gift that was presented for course four. We’re talking about a cajun spice crust surrounding house cured/sous vide pork belly of deliciousness that couldn’t be cracked by tapping the top. Cutting it open was pornographic…crazy rich, fatty and easily the funnest thing I’ve had in my mouth since my wedding night.

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The pork belly meat present situation. The photo makes it look like a brownie, but rest assured this was pork belly for the cajun gods.

Dessert felt like a finish line, but instead of getting handed water, we got a Fernet-infused marshmallow plopped on ganache and, you guessed it, a bourbon barrel-aged version of a Mexican hot chocolate: Xocoveza Charred. While the beer is easily dessert on its own, it’s the best beer served tonight. Charred is a delight as it mellowed the spicing of the base beer while adding notes of coconut, vanilla, cinnamon. It’s tough to tell where the spices stop and the barrel begins. It’s easily my favorite beer of the night and a great closer.

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Overall, the food was full of hits. 7/8 were dishes I would order again, the ultra-rare pork cheeks being the only thing that didn’t do it for me. Stone, despite rummaging through the cellar, gets 4/8 with the extra star for sending up “Dr.” Bill; a classy dude that has great stories and is ace at cultivating a party atmosphere. Winter Harvest, Tequila Belgique, Brown Sour, and Grainiac didn’t do it for me, but there was plenty of other beer to sip and admire at leisure.

I think the big question is, “was it worth it?” in which I say yes. The party atmosphere and eclectic lineup of dishes was crazy fun. For my taste, a more balanced beer line up and less courses would have been more enjoyable. Beer, being highly caloric and filling, needs food to match, and eight courses was a little much. It’s great to see chef at a place with great service to back up the skilled kitchen, who had dishes plated and served like clockwork. Nice job Grits!

Check them out for brunch most days of the week, dinner on Friday-Saturday and fried chicken Sundays! Hell, stop in for a beer and see what’s up. Split some snacks with your buddies, or random people at the bar, it’s down home

 

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