Thanks to the Library Alehouse, I got to tackle the delightful task of tasting beer with cheese. At Monday’s Sourfest opening, there were five Bruery beers with five cheeses picked to accentuate the flavors of the beer.
Considering the explosion of artisanal cheeses has matched the outpouring of great craft beers, it can be devilishly difficult to find a pairing that works well together. I know because in the past I have tried the delicate art of marrying the divergent and sometimes pungent with the appropriate beer and have come up short.
I sampled two of the pairings and one worked better than the other by a slim margin. The new Faro made with date sugar from the Bruery was twinned with Taleggio cheese and the soft buttery texture balanced out the acidity and sharpness of the beer. The Saison de Lente together with its barnyardy yeast smell and gentle lemon taste fought the goat gouda it was paired with a bit but neither the beer nor the cheese was overwhelmed by the other.
Here is what you should keep in mind if you would like to do a stellar beer and cheese event like the Library Alehouse:
1. Do not hesitate to experiment. Get a blue cheese. Or a sour beer. Maybe not together but you may find that needle in the haystack by not minimizing the choices.
2. The key pairing rule is to compare and complement. An ideal match would be that moment when you realize that the cheese tastes better after a sip of beer.
3. You do not want to blow away a light beer with a stinky cheese. And vice-versa, you don’t want a big hop bomb that scrapes your tongue before you can taste the cheese.
4. Work with beer you have had and know about. It will be much easier to find a cheese whose aromas and textures play well with a certain beer if you know the aromas and flavors of the beer.
For the craft Beer of the Week, I suggest purchasing the Stone Cherry Chocolate Stout . This is the 2nd collaborative beer from Stone released this month alone! The trio that brought forth this beer are home brew winners Jason Fields & Kevin Sheppard along with Troegs of Pennsylvania and of course, Stone. This beer had a pleasant, almost sour cherry flavor at first that faded into a roasty stout. The chocolate is too far in the background but nonetheless this is an impressive concoction. I would skip the cheese and have ice cream with this.
Your Homework is to talk with a brewer. Don’t be intimidated. In the past week, I have talked about why Heretic Brewing named a beer Tafelbully. Talked about the cost of malt with Brian at Nibble Bit Tabby and found out why dates were used in the Bruery’s Pharoah Faro. I find the story behind the beer as fascinating as the brews themselves. And they probably can tell you what food they eat with their beer too.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.