Last week, I hosted a beer tasting for a friend’s birthday. I got my friend Krysta The Fromager to pick out the cheeses that we would be pairing with darker beers for a friend group of five, and what ensued was much deliciousness. There are so many varieties of both beer and cheese, and the carbonation in beer is the perfect palate cleanser for rich cheese. Below are the pairings we chose, and a couple other treats I surprised our guests with:
Instead of crackers, I made two loaves of beer bread to pair with the cheese.
Beer bread is one of the simplest things to bake, and it makes for a dense beery loaf that goes great with fatty cheese. I made one with Anchor Steam, and the other one with St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (recipe here).
Here is the beautiful platter of cheeses expertly chosen by one Krysta The Fromager.
From left to right: Dutch Extra Aged Beemster Gouda, American Chai BellaVitano & Espresso BellaVitano, Italian Cambozola and French Mimolette.
Here are the beers I chose for this beer loving friend group: Chimay Red (only because we couldn’t get our hands on Rochefort 8, but this beer balanced the others perhaps even better), and a trio of Ontario’s finest tall boys – Left Field’s Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale, Big Rig’s Black IPA and Wellington’s Imperial Russian Stout.
We paired the aged Beemster with our “champagne” beer, the classic Trappist Dubbel Chimay Première (Red). This pairing is perfect for those new to complex cheese and beer, because they’re delicious and approachable: slightly spicy, nutty, sweet and luxurious.
Next up, we paired Left Field’s Eephus (which means “zero” in Hebrew and is named after a no good pitch) with two BellaVitano varieties: one rubbed with Chai spices, and one rubbed with Espresso. To all you cheese novices: rinds should be eaten, especially when they’re this tasty. I’m a huge fan of Chai, and it was a delight to taste it alongside this delicious cheese. The bitter spices compliment the subtle sweet complexity of the BellaVitano cheese, and both pair very well with the roasty creamy notes in the Eephus.
This led to our most complex bitter pairing: the sharp, funky Cambozola (which is a creamy brie-style blue cheese) with Big Rig’s Black IPA. Everyone in our group loved IPAs and blue cheese, so this pairing went over quite well.
Lastly, we paired the strong, roasty and slightly sweet Wellington Imperial Russian Stout with Mimolette, a densely crystallized cheese that was once used as a weapon! This is the cheese that I am most looking forward to buying again, perhaps for a dinner party: it is really something special.
And there you have it. Four pairings of delicious beers and cheeses…. but wait, there’s more! I surprised the birthday boy with À La Fût’s Porter à la Brett, a porter aged with Brett Brux from my recent trip to Montreal, and Simpsons donuts from the local Miche Bakery.
I can not think of better pairings for this awesome group of people. This was the first official tasting Krysta and I have done, and it was a great success.
What should our next beer and cheese theme be? Let me know in the comments or tweet me at @ccprmaven.