beer and food

Beer and cheese #4

Detail from the label of a bottle of Caracole's Nostradamus
Detail from the label of a bottle of Caracole's Nostradamus

You might remember our experiments with beer and cheese pairing from a few weeks ago. Well, we’re by no means done yet.

For our fourth experiment, we took the cheeses we used with the Brooklyn Local and tried them with Brooklyn lager, Brakspear Oxford Gold and Nostradamus, a dark sweet 9%-er from Brasserie Caracole.

The Wensleydale is an absolutely gorgeous cheese, but hard to match.  It brought out an unpleasant iron flavour in both the Brooklyn lager and the Nostradamus — quite bizarre.  It was OK with the Brakspear, but flattened the flavour a little.

The camembert was the best match for the light-but-lovely Brakspear.  (Incidentally, the Beer Nut reviewed it here. trying it with bleu d’auvergne.) The cheese gave the beer a nice malt boost.  It brought out the oranginess of the Brooklyn lager and made the Nostradamus taste even more of raisins.

It would have been poetic if the Oxford blue had gone with the Oxford gold but, unfortunately, it made the beer less interesting.  It killed the hops in the Brooklyn and made the Nostradamus sweeter and less complex.  This is another fabulous cheese that is annoyingly hard to pair.

We thought that the Stinking Bishop would be a challenge for these beers.  Brooklyn lager stood up surprisingly well, the cheese making the flavours more rounded and smoother without killing the hops.  It didn’t completely kill the Oxford Gold either.  However, the standout match was with the Nostradamus — it brought out cherry and chocolate flavours in the beer that the others did not.

So, conclusions to date: blue cheeses and Wensleydale are proving tough to match.  Stinking Bishop (and perhaps other hardcore rind-washed cheeses) go surprisingly well with a lot of beers, but particularly strong Belgian (or Belgian-style) beer.

Any suggestions for what to try next? We’ve got Harvey’s Imperial Stout with blue cheese on the list for starters.

beer and food

Beer and Cheese #3


This 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, and Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout.

The goat’s cheese didn’t really work with either — it accentuated the bitterness (at the expense of the malt) in the pale ale and killed the roastiness of the imperial stout.  The cheap camembert didn’t make a dent in the imperial stout’s flavour but brought out a little sweetness in the Brooklyn.  However, the beer made the cheese taste like rubber.  We had hopes that the imperial stout would be a good match for the Roquefort and it did stand up to it, but again, lost some roasty flavour.  The Roquefort made the pale ale harsher and more bitter.  So – we’re still looking for a good match for this one.

The best match for both beers was actually the boring cheddar.  It made the East India Pale Ale more balanced (we’re fans of the beer but think the hops are a little too grassy and dominant) and it intensified the flavours of the imperial stout.

beer and food

Brooklyn Local 1 (beer and cheese #2)


What could be more fitting for our continuing beer and cheese adventures than to try a special beer from the man who inspired us in the first place?

Brooklyn Local 1 is bottle-conditioned (and a very nice bottle it is, too).  The Brooklyn Brewery website describes it as “a dynamic complex of flavors, Belgian flair, Brooklyn fortitude and a dusting of our special yeast” and it lives up to this.  It is Duvel-like in its mouthfeel and drinkability, with a sweet orange flavour giving way to a spicy aftertaste.  It’s jolly good.

We tried pairing it with a range of cheses.  A posh, rather gooey camembert from our local deli made it sweeter and reminded us of Hoegaarden Grand Cru, accentuating the spice.  A very nice Wensleydale complemented the spice, but was overpowered by the beer very easily.  Our difficult-to-match Oxford Blue was OK, but made the beer taste much less complex.

The overall winner (in fact, the best beer and cheese match we’ve had yet) was the aptly named Stinking Bishop.  This rind-washed cult classic made the beer much more intense and full-bodied, while the beer brought out the creaminess in the cheese and helped to downplay its challenging odour.  Marvellous. There’s something in this cheese and beer business after all.