January 30, 2014

Beer and cheese - a natural combination

The beer
On Sunday there was an intimate gathering treated to a tasting of the Goose Island "sisters" - Halia, Gillian, Juliet, and Lolita - paired with cheese. As an added bonus, dessert was a cheese paired with a glass of Bourbon County Stout.
The cheese
It was a casual environment, with attendees conversing as the beers were served, passing around trays of bread, bowls of candied and spicy nuts, and jars of different condiments.
Halia with the Stilton
Halia was the first beer, paired with Long Clawson White Stilton with lemon. Since all of these beers were sour, Beer KC Beer Director Randyl Danner thought more in terms of the fruit in each paired with the cheese. Halia is a farmhouse ale aged with peaches and had a subtle sweetness that was balanced by the cheese. Most Stilton is blue cheese, with veins of mold running through it. The cheese in this pairing was the mellower white variety, enhanced infused with lemon. The tartness of the lemon played well with that of the beer, and the peach and citrus didn't get in the way of each other.

Gillian with Ricotta
Strawberry, white pepper, and honey were a part of the next beer, Gillian. When the beer was first served, the strawberry flavors took a backseat to the pepper, but as it sat and warmed the strawberry came to the forefront, opening up with beautiful balance. The Mitica Ricotta was rich, and the acidity and fruitiness of the helped balance some of it. And some of either the apple or berry chutney cut the dryness of the crumbly cheese.
Juliet with Lincet Delices de Bourgogne
The next pairing featured the personal favorite beer and cheese on the afternoon. Juliet's blackberries and tartness next to the soft and creamy Lincet Delices de Bourgogne. Each are phenomenal representations of their respective styles and complimented each other very well. The beer was sweet and tart but not overwhelming at either, and the smooth cheese was mellow enough to match the fruit but strong enough to keep up with the sour (these qualities actually made the cheese a natural pair with all of the beers, but it worked best with Juliet, the sourest of the bunch).

Lolita and brie
Lolita was the last of the sisters, paired with a classic triple cream brie. Once again a great pairing of a sour beer with a soft cheese, though the brie was a little nuttier and mellower than the Delices de Bourgogne, and the Lolita's raspberries slightly sweeter than Juliet.
Bourbon County Stout and el Trigal Manchego 12
While the Juliet and Delices de Bourgogne may have been my favorite beer and cheese of the day, my favorite overall pairing was the "dessert." The big Bourbon County Stout may seem better suited for chocolate, but the aged Manchego was perfect next to the bold beer. The cheese was nutty and subdued, and let the beer do most of the heavy lifting. It had a slight creaminess that went with the rich mouthfeel of the stout but enough structure to hold its own and not be totally overcome. This was a perfect pairing.

Miss out this time? Beer KC will be hosting another beer and cheese pairing in October! Keep your eyes open for details later this year.

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