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.