Hurricane Grill is a Category 5 for beer lovers

June 12, 2014

hurricanecraftbeerselectionHurricane Grill and Wings in Coconut Point seems an unlikely spot for a great craft beer selection. However, this franchise location owned by Chris Levy is a craft beer lover’s paradise with eight craft beers on draft that rotate at least weekly and dozens more available by the bottle.

This Hurricane Grill doesn’t even offer choices of traditional American beers like Budweiser. Servers ask each customer who enters what their favorite beer is and try to match them with an available craft beer that will suit their style and palate. This approach has paid off for Levy too as he has the highest beer versus food mix of any of the approximately 60 Hurricane Grill locations.

Being that wings are included in the name of the restaurant, the Wing Appetizer seemed an obvious start. The wings are fresh and according to Levy are brought in three times a week. The challenge with the wings is in choosing a sauce or rub as there are over 30 to choose from ranging from extremely spicy (Category 5) to mild (Category 1). Levy recommended several of the most popular. The Boss Sauce was actually designed by a Hurricane Grill bartender and is a combination of spices, garlic, Parmesan and herbs. The Dynamite Sauce features a foundation of “boom boom” sauce with some added Cajun flair. The Thai Ginger and Garlic sauce won a national Buffalo wing competition in the “sweet and creative category.” The Garlic Parmesan and Herb Sauce is a very popular mild sauce that is added to fries for the “Hurricane World-Famous Garlic and Parmesan Fries” featured on the appetizer menu.

For the wing and beer pairing, Levy suggested the Habanero Lime Toss Rub to pair with the Six Point Bengali Tiger IPA. This rub had heat right up front but lime on the end which paired well with the citrus and bitter of the beer. The wings were juicy, not dry, and after eating several of them, the rub left a warming burn on the lips and tongue. Six Point Bengali Tiger was an interesting IPA as there was a malty flavor that came out at the beginning followed by the hops and bitter.

For the entree, a selection of sliders was paired with various craft beers. The Barrel Burger Sliders are made of fresh Angus beef served on a toasted bun and usually dressed with peppered mayo and sauteed onions. Levy added Cajun spices and blue cheese to the Barrel Burger Sliders to create a delicious combination that paired well with the Racer 5 IPA brewed by the Bear Republic out of California. The nose on this IPA is light with hints of malts and citrus. The taste, however, is hop and bitter on the end, a perfect pairing with the tanginess of blue cheese.

The Crab Cake Sliders were also served on a slightly toasted bun but seasoned with a garlic aioli sauce. The butter in the roll was evident in this dish. Being a lighter flavor on the palate, these sliders were paired with a lighter beer. The Swing Saison from Victory Brewing Co. is light and crisp with the herbal flavors typical in a Belgian-style beer. There were definite flavors of lemon and orange in this beer. Being that lemon is a traditional condiment to seafood, this made a sensible pairing.

Finally, the Pulled Pork Sliders were paired with Rogue’s Dad’s Little Helper Black IPA. Black IPAs combine the best of toasted malts with piney and grapefruit flavors of hops — and this beer did not disappoint. The roasted flavors in these malts paired perfectly with the smokiness of the barbecue sauce added to the pork sliders. By far, this was the best pairing of the night, as toasty met smoky and created a bold flavor sensation.

The menu features more than just traditional bar food such as wings and sandwiches. Chicken and fish entrees are available, as well as a selection of wraps, burgers, salads and Southwestern style entrees. Prices here are very reasonable, with entrees ranging from $8 to $13. The restaurant also offers a large selection of items for takeout.

However, if you are a craft beer lover, you need to go for the beer selection. Taps rotate quickly so you never know what will be available and Levy tries to get selections that are not necessarily available anywhere else.

Hurricane Grill and Wings is located in the Coconut Point shopping area at 8017 Plaza del Lago Drive, #107, which is in the courtyard near the European Wax Center and in front of Pagelli’s Italiano. Hurricane Grill can be reached at 498-1536.