Friday, December 4, 2009

Beer and Cheese 101

When pairing beer and cheese, consider the classic Ploughmans
Lunch in Britain -- a pint of bitter, a wedge of cheddar, pickles & picked
onions, charcuterie and a baguette.
The variety of craft beers & styles
and artisan cheeses that are available can be daunting, so here are a few
tips and rules of thumb to break!

It is all about Taste...
Aged cheese (parmesean, gouda, blues, cheddars) have a crystalline texture
from the naturally occurring glutanic acid, this is the basis of Umami. Some
argue Umami is the fifth taste sense (bitter, sweet, salty and sour are the core
four), others say it is just a sensation. It is hard to argue the pairing of an aged
cheese with a big flavored beer (lots of malt, and hop forward) is anything
but amazingly delicious, and quite pleasurable, thanks to Umami.

and Breaking Myths...
this headline sums it up:
Forget wine and cheese parties -- the true soul mate for fromage isn't
made from grape juice.

Janet Fletcher, a noted author of 18 books on food (Niman Ranch Cookbook),
wine, and cheese (The Cheese Course) , has a cheese column in the San Francisco
Chronicle. Her article in Februaury 2005 heralded the virtues of beer and
cheese ~ Janet had a beer and cheese epiphany, which is music to my ears!

Her article highlights pairing rules, suggestions and references from
Garrett Oliver (brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, author of Brewmasters Table),
Lucy Saunders
( website, noted beer/food author) and
Tom Dalldorf (Celebrator Beer News editor). Her article is great read and reference.

Janet's pointers are bold
, along with a few of my pairing suggestions:

Pairing Pointers... Although you'll find many happy matches that
break the following rules, these guidelines are a good starting point
for thinking about beer with cheese.

Pair delicate beers with young, fresh cheeses.
Morimoto Soba Ale with a fresh chevre (goat milk), or the classic
pairing with Rogue Creamery Morimoto Soba Cheddar.

Juniper Pale Ale with Vella Dry Jack or Rogue Creamery Crater
Lake Blue (really!).

Pair rich malty beers with nutty, aged cheeses.
Dead Guy Ale or American Amber Ale with an Aged Gouda
(Willamette Valley) .

Hazenut Brown Ale with Rogue Creamery Raw Milk Sharp
cheddar or TouVelle.

American Amber Ale with Rogue Creamery Chipitle Cheddar.

Pair highly hopped, bitter beers with tart, sharp cheeses,
especially cheddars.

Youngers Special Bitter with Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped
Cheddar (other classic aged cheddars, WSU Cougar Gold,
Beechers, Jasper Hill, Grafton, Shelbourne Farms, Widmer Bros.)

Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter with
Rogue Creamery Echo Mountain (part goat, mostly cows milk).

Pair strong, sweet beers with blue cheeses.
Any Rogue Stout (Chocolate Stout, Shakespeare Stout, Imperial Stout)
or Old Crustacean Barleywine paired with
Rogue Creamery Blue (OR Blue, Crater Lake Blue, Smokey Blue,
Rogue River Blue, Oregonzola, Cave Man Blue, Echo Mtn Blue).
Bottom line: Cows do not eat grapes... (JackJoyce-ism)

Photo: Seb's beer and cheese class at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in NYC