Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 589 : A recap of tonight's "Mostly Local Beer and Cheese" Tasting

This evening a group of fifteen settled down for a tasting of mostly local beers and cheeses -- a window into the world of curds and suds.

Why mostly? -- well that's because one of the beers is from Belgium.
And why local? -- Because it is very interesting to study two

Pairing # 1 : Circus Boy & Cremont

We started off with the funky Burlington, Vermont brew - Circus Boy, Magic Hat's unfiltered and unfettered hefeweizen. Loosely modeled on the classic German hefeweizen brewed primarily with wheat and a good amount of malted barley and of course top fermented. Notes of citrus, lemongrass, hay, straw, and more perfume your nose here. A light, crisp, refreshing beer that is perfect for the summertime.

Less than an hour drive away is Vermont Butter and Cheese and their mixed milk hockey puck sized cheese, Cremont or the Cream of Vermont. Creamy and buttery with a round mouth feel and a bright citrusy finish, this cheese walks an excellent line between a double or triple cream style cheese and a more chalky firm aged goat's milk cheese. The beer will cut through the cream and the citrus notes in the cheese in the beer and the cheese will function in perfect harmony.

Pairing # 2 : Victory Prima Pils and Twig Farm's Goat Tomme

Of Pennsylvanian origin, the Prima Pils is one of the best examples on the East Coast of a true "golden beer" of Bohemia. Pilsners are lagers -- meaning that they are brewed at lower temperatures than an ale and are fermented with bottom yeasts (as opposed to top yeasts like say in a hefeweizen.) Pilsners tend to be golden brown with a nice hoppy nose and taste sensation. Don't worry the Prima Pils is not all hop, there's a bit of sweeter maltiness with the classic bitter finish.

With our Prima Pils we had a morsel of Twig Farm's Goat Tomme, a raw goat's milk cheese from West Cornwall, Vermont. The semi-firm aged goat's milk cheese is milky and light with slight notes of mushroomy-ness and farmsteady-ness with a grassy bright lemony finish. The smooth milkiness of the cheese will play off the bitter hoppiness of the beer to form an excellent pairing.

Pairing # 3 : Peak Organic IPA and Cato Corner's Hooligan

Yes it is an organic beer company hailing from Portland, Maine that crafts our IPA. IPA's are the "in thing," have you heard? With all these new craft breweries sprouting up, there's quite the IPA selection out there. Why did I choose this one? Well I felt that it displayed the classic characteristics one looks for in an IPA -- hoppiness, bitterness yet a slight malty sweetness, floral notes, a hint of spice and of alcohol.
So where does the term IPA come from? India Pale Ale that dates back to the British colonization of India when goods were transported by ship and it was believed that the enzymes in the hops present in an IPA would allow for the beer's natural preservation on long journeys at sea.

To go with our IPA, I chose the Connecticut based, mother and son crafted Hooligan -- a washed rind cow's milk cheese full of brine-y saltiness with notes of cream. Farmsteady and barnyardy but not too stinky to scare away the faint of washed rind cheese heart. The hoppiness and the floral spicy notes of the beer will cut through the round farmsteady washed rinded-ness of the cheese to form a perfect union of cheesy beer goodness!

Pairing # 4 : Brooklyn Brewery's Brown Ale and Consider Bardwell's Rupert

As per request, instead of going with a stout or a porter to continue the class here, I decided to go with Brooklyn Brewery's interpretation of a classic English brown ale. Mahogany in color, somewhat dry in mouthfeel with notes of chocolate, coffee, molasses, and of course hops, this dark beer is quite the experience, bitter, bitting and fabulous! And how could we possibly go through a local beer tasting without at least one Brooklyn Brewery beer.

Paired with this is Consider Bardwell's Rupert, a raw cow's milk cheese hailing from Pawlet, Vermont modeled on the great European Alpine cheeses like Gruyere and Comte. But our Vermont version knocks their socks off -- notes of apricots, grass, and nuts perfume your nose before even enjoying a morsel of cheesy goodness. On the tongue it has an excellent butterscotchy, caramelly sweetness that will play off the dry bitterness of the beer and form a great pairing!

Pairing # 5 : Lindemans Framboise & Jasper Hill's Bayley Hazen Blue

Originally I had thought to start the class with an amuse bouche of fresh chevre and a glass of this delectable framboise lambic and then I decided, no way, this guy would overpower your taste buds, one needed to finish with it. Yes, lambics have great flexibility and can be served as an aperitif or a digestif but when you want your palate fresh for a variety of other tastes, you should finish with lambic. Lambics are a centuries old drink crafted in Belgium -- instead of the introduction of yeasts to create fermentation, lambics are crafted with wild yeasts that cause spontaneous fermentation making them traditionally more funky in flavor, sometimes musty, earthy, leathery but with a fruity floral bouquet. Many times they are brewed with fruits and in our case this evening I chose the classic Framboise.

And what to go with the Framboise Lambic but the fantastically creamy spicy piquant Bayley Hazen Blue. Named for a military road that traverses Greensboro, Vermont where it is said George Washington once traversed to bring troops to battle the English. A natural rind blue's milk cheese aged for four to six months, that is an overall delight! The sweetness of the Lambic will play off the the piquant spiciness of the cheese and the earthy notes of both will function in complete harmony!

So if you missed the class and want to participate in a beer and cheese tasting please feel free to try the pairings I've suggested or contact me for further ideas for pairings.

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