The back-story and introduction for this month’s Session is a bit involved but thought provoking…all about pairing beer with cheese. In this instance, what pairs with iconic cheeses Blue, Cheddar and chevre.
Part 1: The Regular May Session
That brings us back to Session #51, and the topic of cheese and beer. So pick up some of each cheese, or if you can’t find those specific cheeses, choose similar ones. Pick a beer to pair with each one and post your results on the first Friday in May.
There are at least a few approaches you could take:
1. Guess what beer to pair, and then report the results.
2. Try a few beers with each cheese, then report the results on which worked best, and why.
3. Invite some friends over, and have each bring a beer to pair, then report the results on which worked best, and why.
4. Obviously, if you can only pair one cheese, or two, don’t let that deter you.
5. Whatever else catches your fancy.
And that is just 1/2 the challenge, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin for Part 2 of the challenge…
Last Sunday, my beer buddy Richard and I headed to the Silver Lake Cheese Store to complete the May Session challenge of pairing beer and cheese.
We even got an employee who was well aware of beer and cheese pairings and was able to help us find the cheeses we needed. We ended up with a nice Stilton blue, a Dunbarton cheddar and the Humboldt Fog chevre.
Next stop was the nearby Cap’n Cork store to make our beer selections. We had chosen to each find a beer to pair with each cheese for a total of 6 beers. After perusing the many choices and each selecting a beer to sample, we set up for the grand tasting and roped in my sister-in-law as an additional taster and got the challenge under way.
Cheese # 1 – Stilton
My Beer Choice – New Belgium Lips of Faith Dunkel Weiss
Richard’s Beer Choice – Stone Old Guardian Belgo Barleywine.
This cheese did not play well with either of our beer choices though the Stone brew rated higher. It was a case of strong beers and strong cheese not working together. I thought the big malty backbone of a extreme Dunkel would undercut the blue but it was too smokey and powerful and didn’t add anything to the cheese. The Belgo was good on it’s own but really could not match with the blue at all.
I went out on a limb with my first beer choice and then I went even further for my second and third. Selecting two beers from the Longshot 23 collection from Sam Adams. The cheddar was much more forgiving with beer. And at the end of this round, Richard and I agreed that the Union Jack and it’s big citrus taste really enlivened the cheddar. There was a spark of flavor that we had really missed with the blue cheese. The Friar Hop won my sister-in-law’s vote because it was less hoppy and more rounded with a caramel note from the Belgian candi sugar that she thought melded with the cheese.
I was hoping to go out with a win. But it was not to be. The chevre overpowered the light but noticeable lavender flavor and the sweetness did not cut against the creaminess of the cheese. The dubbel worked wonders though. I thought it would be too strong but it really added a layer to the chevre and both were on the same taste wavelength.
In the end, Richard was the clear winner of the afternoon. If you factor in that we both had great cheese and beer and learned a lot then we both won.
Oh and here is Richard’s side of the story.