We’ve resolved to hold a beer and cheese tasting for our friends this year, so we thought we’d do a trial run. Several trial runs in fact, to work out what really works, without relying solely on perceived wisdom and the experience of others.
We did consult a few references, though. As well as Garrett Oliver’s book The Brewmaster’s Table which inspired us in the first place, we also read interesting articles by Fiona Beckett (here), Pete Brown and commentators (here) and New Zealand cheese salesman and brewer Kieran Haslett-Moore, who has lots of suggestions all over his blog.
It’s clear from our initial experiments, however, that it’s tougher than it looks. It’s not really enough to say that ‘X type of beer goes with Y type of cheese’ as there is as much variety in cheese as there is in beer. Still, it’s a lot of fun trying various different combinations, even if we did have nightmares afterwards.
Test set 1: Pilsener Urquell and Hoegaarden
We had four quite different cheeses to match up here to get some sense of the lay of the land. There was a nice soft goat’s cheese, a not-very-posh Camembert, some (rather boring) cheddar and some Roquefort.
One of our theories to date has been that Hoegaarden works with pretty much any kind of food including curry. We were proved wrong. The goat’s cheese didn’t influence the flavour of the beer very much, although possibly brought out a little bitterness. The camembert accentuated the citrus notes and was probably the best match. The cheddar — dull as it was — still managed to overpower the Hoegaarden. The Roquefort completely killed it.
The goat’s cheese complemented the PU really well — it brought out the malty sweetness but kept the balance, whereas the camembert made the PU seem watery and less bitter. The cheddar made it harsh and unbalanced. The PU stood up remarkably well to the Roquefort, although overall we would say that the cheese won the battle.
We really enjoyed the Roquefort and are keen to find a beer that can handle it. More on that to follow and, as always, suggestions welcome.
Photo from cwbuechler at Flickr, license under Creative Commons.
11 replies on “Beer and cheese”
I’ve enjoyed Guinness FES or Extra Stout with veined cheeses. The stronger stout has strong enough flavors to stand up to powerful blue cheeses so you might try that with the Roquefort.
I also like brie with the geuze but if you’re putting on a tasting for non-connoisseurs geuze might not be the best choice.
Cheese and beer is my favourite. Really interesting to see how those beers worked, I’m pleasantly surprised by the results with the Pilsener Urquell!
Roquefort is a great cheese beer, I like it with imperial stouts (Sam Smith is good, or the Paradox’s) or earthy IPAs (Meantime’s is great and a big bottle to share with a platter of cheeses makes a very fine dinner!) and dark belgian or belgian-style beers too (I had Thornbridge Handel with blue cheese last week and it was superb).
I’m hungry for cheese now!!
I ain’t doing that spamming, I’m just sharing my experiences:
What a great thought-provoking blog! Thinking of the traditional pub lunch – the “ploughman’s” – it was (is) always a good mix of tastes to be washed down with whatever bitter was available! I guess large lumps of bread modify everything, but thinking about it, I always preferred sweetish stouts – or cider. Now off to buy a huge selection of cheeses and porters!
Roquefort with a lingering IPA -Thornbridge one is popular
Interesting, Roquefort is awesome but you definitely need something big to stand up to it. Imperial Stout would be good, Belgian Double perhaps , Barley Wine or Old Ale.
I reckon Harvey’s Imperial Stout with all its bretty funkyness would be heaven.
I have been writing a Beer Cheese matching column for S.O.B.A.’s In Pursuit of Hoppyness (our Whats Brewing you might say) I’m currently working on Strong Blues with Barley Wine.
As noted above, cider goes very well with cheese. I don’t recommend beer and cider on the same evening though!
On the cheeses front Sainsbury’s unpasteurised Gruyere is fantastic. And Lidl’s Gorgonzola, eaten whilst still fresh and extra creamy!
Thanks for the tips, everyone.
We’ve already tried Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout with Roquefort (our thoughts on that to follow in a later post) but will also try a barley wine or two; Guinness FES; and some very big IPAs.
Harvey’s Imperial Stout was a bit much over-the-top for us on its own, but maybe with cheese, it would find some balance…?
I’d try the Paradox, or perhaps Fuller’s London Porter, with the Roquefort.
Or a Belgian Abbey ale.
[…] is a fun way to spend an evening, although it can interfere with your sleep. Using the same cheese line up as first time, we tried each against a couple of contrasting beers, namely Brooklyn’s East India Pale Ale, […]
[…] might remember our experiments with beer and cheese pairing from a few weeks ago. Well, we’re by no means done […]