What’s Next; Beer & Cheese! – February 17, 2015

This tasting is always popular with our customers. We tasted 6 great beers. Each beer was individually paired to a unique cheese from Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. Cheese-monger Lindsay was on hand to explain each cheese and why it was selected for each particular beer.

1.    Big Rock Ivan the Fermentable

From Calgary’s own Big Rock Brewery, this is a Kvass style beer brewed as part of the Alchemist series. This is the first Kvass beer that I can  recall having in stock at the store. A Kvass is a beer brewed from rye bread loaves. In this case, the loaves were baked by brewery staff. The beer itself is low alcohol, only 2.5%, and is more often regarded as a soft drink in Russia than a beer. The ease of drinkability and freshness of the beer surprised a lot of the attendees. There were hints of cinnamon and a definite rye spice flavour.

2.    Prairie Artisan Prairie Ale

Prairie Artisan Ales, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a star among craft breweries in the USA.  This brew is a classic saison, brewed with Pilsner malt, wheat malt, flaked wheat, and cane sugar. A healthy dose of Saaz hops is used to add a spicy element to the beer and the ale is fermented with a mix of ale yeast, wine yeast, and brettanomyces. Notes of black pepper, lemon citrus freshness and pineapple can be found in this beer. The brett yeast adds noticeable farmyard components – horse blanket and earthy tones.

3.    Wild Rose Regal

Calgary’s Wild Rose is producing a variety of seasonal releases. This rich black lager (that’s right a black lager) uses specially imported ingredients to recreate an old world favourite. Roasted malts are used to give the beer a dark chocolate flavour which is deftly balanced with the clean bitterness of German noble hops. Special German lager yeast and extended cold aging ensures this beer is silky smooth.

4.    Stewart Cascadian East

An American-style Pale Ale from Edinburgh, Scotland’s Stewart Brewing Ltd. The nose is rife with grapefruit, citrus and tropical fruit as well as a resinous undertone. The taste is medium to light bodied with a bouquet of West Coast American hops, a hint of caramel and a tongue tingling bitterness. Hop charged with a clean and crisp finish.

5.    Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout

Brewed with well water (the original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use with the hard well water being drawn from 85 feet underground), the gently roasted organic cocoa extract imparts a delicious, smooth and creamy character, with inviting deep flavours and a delightful finish – this is a marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate to provide sweetness.

6.    Stone Enjoy By

Escondido, California’s Stone Brewing deliberately makes the Enjoy By series to be drunk as fresh as possible, within 35 days of the bottling date. This can be a bit of a logistical challenge then to get the product shipped to Alberta, processed through the Connect warehouses and onto the store floor in time. This double IPA is big, citrusy and floral, with substantial bitterness, yet well balanced by a big malt presence.

The two beers voted as best for the evening by the participants were:
1.    Stone Enjoy By
2.    Prairie Artisan Prairie Ale

The best cheese and beer pairing for the evening was chosen as the Samuel Smith stout and the matching blue cheese.

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