With so many area restaurants and bars hosting beer pairing dinners these days, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry was beginning to feel as if they were perhaps, well, missing the boat when it came to these popular events.

So the folks at the ferry, which has been host to many successful wine and beer festivals in recent years, decided to jump on the beer dinner bandwagon and developed a series of intimate dinners with special beer pairings that would be just the thing locals could look forward to during the bleak winter months.

“Actually the Cape May Ferry Terminal manager, Kevin Cliggett, came up with the idea,” says James Salmon, public information officer for the Delaware River and Bay Authority. “It’s partially based on the fact that he had done these before at previous jobs and also on the success of our recent wine cruises and our inaugural New Jersey Brewfest in September.”

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The first five-course beer dinner in a series of three will highlight the beers of Cape May Brewery. It will take place in the Sunset Lounge of the Cape May Ferry Terminal 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16.

“Cape May Brewery is actually one of our tenants — we manage and operate the Cape May Airport, and they’re our tenant there,” Salmon says. “So we’re very familiar with them and carry them in the terminal and have included them in past festivals as well.”

Ryan Krill of Cape May Brewing Company can’t seem to contain his enthusiasm for the beer’s inclusion in the debut of this event.

“I’m excited that the DRBA has chosen us to kick off their first beer pairing dinner,” Krill says. “It will showcase the flavors of our beers and demonstrate how wonderfully they pair with a gourmet meal.”

Chef John Schlaner, who also creates the menus for the ferry’s wine cruise dinners, weddings and other special events, took particular pleasure in developing the menu for the ferry’s first beer flight dinner.

The night kicks off with an hors d’oeuvres reception and “cocktail” tasting of Cape May Brewery’s Blonde Ale and Coastal Evacuation. Following that, guests can nibble on seared scallops St. Jacques paired with the award-winning Cape May IPA.

Next comes the salad course, which will feature seasonal greens, assorted artisan cheeses, poached pears and toasted pumpkin seeds topped with a Double IPA dressing. Then for the entree, folks can enjoy a mixed grill of chicken breast and grilled pork tenderloin, roasted root vegetables and farro risotto. Both of these courses will be paired with Devil’s Reach.

Dinner concludes with a warm flourless chocolate cake with caramel sauce and chantilly paired with Honey Porter.

Two more beer flight dinners are planned for the next two months: Tuckahoe Brewery will be the focus of the one in February, and Flying Fish will be showcased in March. Dates will be announced soon.

“Our hope is that these events not only highlight the terminal’s Sunset Lounge, but help promote the craft brewing industry in Cape May County in general,” Cliggett says.

Go to CapeMayLewesFerry.com for more information.

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Worked in public relations in Philadelphia and NYC on national pharmaceutical and consumer accounts. Owned an award-winning boutique in Philadelphia. Became a freelance writer for The Press, ultimately coming on board full time in May 2014.

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