What’s Next, Beer & Cheese! tasting, Thursday March 3, 2016

What’s Next? Beer and Cheese!
Thursday March 3, 2016
By: Shawn Young

I dare you to come up with a pair of words so mouth wateringly tantalizing as “beer and cheese”. When you ask someone what the one food that they couldn’t live without is, I bet you cheese is the answer nearly 90% of the time. Now,change that from food to beverage, and I imagine beer would be the answer somewhere around 70% of the time. Fewer people, of course, and all because of the unfortunate wine lovers!  So, with that in mind, there’s no way this wasn’t one of the tastiest, comforting, satiating and most satisfying evenings of the year thus far.

The wonderful Crystal McKenzie of The Peasant Cheese Shop personally sampled each of the 6 beers I chose and picked the best cheese to pair with each (rough job hey?), and she even stuck around to tell us about each one! It was a long night of tasting, enjoying, sighing, more tasting, and more enjoying. Here’s the line up, don’t be jealous.

Lux  by Ninkasi Brewing
We paired this German style Helles lager with a soft French cheese called Le Dauphin. The soft, creamy flavours complimented the mellow malt profile whole bringing out the floral notes and spice from the hops. ($22.79 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Otra Vez by Sierra Nevada brewing
In almost every tasting I put on I try to sneak a sour beer or two into it. Aside from loving the wide range of reactions in the room, I really want to educate people on some of my favourite sour styles (and sours in general). This time we paired this Gose brewed with prickly pear cactus and grapefruit with a Canadian cloth bound goat cheese called Lindsay. The funky goat quality played very well with the tart fruitiness of the beer, and the acidity in the beer played well to break up the firm texture of the cheese. Excellent pairing! ($22.69 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Fat Tug by Driftwood brewing
I wanted to see how one of the best Canadian IPAs stood up to a cheese pairing, so we took good ol’ Fat Tug and paired it with Comté. The wonderful sweetness in the cheese complimented the big hoppy bitterness of the beer, and the sharp strong flavours of both the cheese and the fruity, sappy North American hops worked with their mutual complexities to make an explosion of flavour. ($7.19 for a 650mL bottle)

Aventinus by Schneider Weisse
Sometimes we just have to go back and revisit the classics, and Scheider Weisse’s Dopplebock is definitely a classic. Another Canadian cheese, Migneron from Quebec was paired with this bold, bready beer. The mild, creamy almost nutty quality of the semi hard cheese gave a wonderful platform to showcase the fennel, caraway, rye bread like notes of the beer. Both working incredibly well together, this was one of my favourite pairings of the night. ($4.69 for a 500mL bottle)

La Trappe Oak aged quadrupel by Koningshoeven
It’s not too common that we get a new Trappist beer, so when this came in several weeks ago I knew I had to showcase it in a tasting. This beer was matched up with England’s own Westcombe. The beer’s big oak flavours integrated well with the dried fruit notes of the classic quad, and the slight nutty and caramel notes from the cheese made for a literal mouthful of harmonious flavours. ($16.89 for a 375mL bottle)

Sea Monster by Ballast Point brewing
I had to end things off with something big and roasted (like always), and this time I was super excited to finally try this imperial oatmeal stout from San Diego’s finest. Picobello from the Netherlands was picked to stand up to the coming onslaught of roasted barley, chocolate and coffee. The nutty caramel notes of the Picobello really came through as the stout was actually a little milder than I expected. The coffee and chocolate and nuts and caramel all combined were as good as it sounds. A spectacular pairing choice! ($12.89 for a 650mL bottle)

Now, Now, I said don’t be jealous. We do a beer and cheese tasting every season, so if this got your mouth watering, first grab a sponge for that drool, but then stay tuned for the next tasting schedule so you can come to the next one.

Somehow we had to choose the favourites of the night. It was a challenge, but the favorite pairing of the evening was the Fat Tug IPA paired with Comté, followed by a tie for second and third by Ninkasi’s Lux lager paired with the fabulous Le Dauphin, and the Aventinus Dopplebock paired with Migneron.  This is nearing the end of the post, so I want to thank Crystal and Peasant Cheese for the work they put in, and all the education she provided, as well as all of our guests who made it a really fun and social evening. Perhaps I’ll see some of you at my Intro to Craft Beer tasting coming up later this month!

Until next time, cheese!… er… Cheers!

- Shawn

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