I know this isn’t a tech post, but I’m working on getting back to blogging like no one’s reading. So bear with me and hopefully it adds a bit of personality.
I’ve been experimenting lately with cheese and beer pairings. I’m obviously a little bit biased, but I think the diversity of beer makes it a fantastic compliment to cheese. It’s not a new thing, but especially in America, which has taken the wine and cheese pairing route, it’s a bit of a niche. Which leaves lots of room for exploration which in turn leaves lots of room for exploration.
For this particular round I took 3 different beers and 3 different cheeses. The picture has 4 beers, but we didn’t get to the IPA. Kind of a bummer because IPAs make for some really interesting beer pairing, but alas, some beer has to be saved for later. Our beers were:
- Lagunitas Dopple Weizen – A surprisingly crisp and tangy beer. They use yeast from Bavaria which I think gives the beer a really interesting flavor that mixes nicely with the crisp malt profile of the Dopple. Still retains a lot of the wheat character of the beer making it a mix of flavors that opened up a lot o cheese possibilities.
- Full Sail Sanctuary 2011 – This beer deserves a year or two of conditioning in the bottle, but desperate times and all that. A great example of the dubbel style; bready, carmely malt goodness mixed with the banana, spicy belgian yeast. Slight hops to round out the beer, but basically a very drinkable Dubbel all around.
- Alaskan Perseverance Ale – I can’t get enough of this beer. It’s a typical stout but brewed with birch syrup and fireweed honey. Both give the beer a very bitter sweetness which is a great compliment to the standard stout. It adds just a slight bit of extra to it that makes it stand out and makes it a very complex and fun to drink beer. It’s a 25th anniversary beer so grab some while you can.
Now, on to the cheeses:
- Cypress Grove Chevre Truffle Tremor – Tangy, truffle goodness. Has a very sour, almost yeasty flavor to it. It’s an aged goat cheese, so the texture plays games with the beer a bit, but the truffle flavor makes it a unique pairing.
- Willamette Valley Farmstead Gouda – I find Gouda to be a great beer pairing cheese. It’s got a creamy, nutty flavor that mixes really well with a lot of the more Belgian beers ends up bringing out some great flavors. This is an excellent (and Northwest local) Gouda to be the pairee.
- Sartori Romano (grated) – Tangy, earthy, nutty with a nice finish. I find the italian hard cheeses kind of tough to do pairings with, but we had this for another part of the meal, so I gave it a shot. Not a major success, but no cheese is bad.
On to the pairings!
The best pairing on the Lagunitas was with the Gouda. The earthy flavors of the Gouda really highlighted the estery parts of the Bavarian yeast in the Lagunitas. Taking a bite of the Gouda and a sip of the Lagunitas together was almost like an entirely new beer. The wheat and yeast flavors were enhanced and it really complimented the sour, tang of the beer. Probably my favorite pairing of the night. The Chevre didn’t really add a ton to this beer. Both were good but there wasn’t the interplay of flavors that I got with the Gouda. It was the same with the Romano. The two definitely worked together, especially the more nutty parts of the Romano, but it didnt’ quite dance in the same way as the Lagunitas and the Gouda did.
The Full Sail and the Gouda actually weren’t as great a pairing as I was hoping. The flavors generally worked together, and some of the earthy notes of the Gouda played off the bready malts of the Full Sail but I was kind of disappointed with the overall result. The Truffle on the other hand, was much more interesting. The earthy, musky flavors of the truffle really did great things to the Full Sail. I think that the banana/spice notes in the Dubbel brought made a great contrast to the earthy, almost bitter parts of the Chevre. It’s kind of like the Truffle added some distinct bitterness that might usually come from hops in another style of beer, but in a way that was completely complimentary to the Full Sail. Great stuff. The Romano was a bit of a dud. Again, not a bad combination, just not one that had a ton of impact on the beer.
By far the hardest beer of the night to pair was the Perseverance. I find stouts hard enough to pair with cheeses, but with birch syrup and the just-off-center sweetness makes it even tougher. The Truffle stood up pretty well here. The truffell flavors didn’t exactly compliment the birch syrup sweetness, but it was kind of an interesting juxtaposition. The combination of that very tart aftertaste with the lingering bitter sweetness tickles the tongue a bit. Sadly, the Gouda didn’t stand much of a chance. It’s flavors just got overwhelmed by the beer. The salty/creamy parts of the Gouda were great, but in order to stand up to a big beer like a Stout, you have to have it in spades. Some Beecher’s Flagship might have been really interesting here. By this time we were out of Romano. It might have held up okay, but I have reservations. The Perseverance is a beer that stands on its own in a big way, so a cheese pairing is tough.
The winner was the Lagunitas and the Gouda. Just a really great mingling of flavors and a fantastic compliment. Second was actually the Truffle and the Perseverance. Maybe because I was three big beers in at that point, but the Truffle with it’s very tangy and creamy texture kind of held its own against the chocolate and bitterly sweet onslaught of the Perseverance. Surprising but tasty.Tweet