beer and food

Beer and cheese


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.

czech republic Snacks to beer

Snacks to Beer: Czech-style nakladaný hermelin

Nakladaný hermelin is, as far as we can fathom, a soft Camembert-type cheese (hermelin) steeped in oil with various flavourings.

We had several rounds of it in pubs in the Czech Republic (Pivni Filosof seems to live off the stuff) and thought it looked like an easy recipe to recreate at home.

You need

  • One Camembert cheese or similar
  • An onion (we used red onion)
  • Juniper berries
  • Paprika (sweet, hottish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper
  • Pickled chillies

To make it…

  1. Cut the cheese in half horizontally, like a sponge cake ready for filling. Spread a teaspoon of paprika, several slices of onion, and salt and pepper inside, and then press it back together.
  2. Put more slices of onion, a pickled chilli and three or four juniper berries in a dish and then put the cheese on top.
  3. Put more slices of onion and another pickled chilli on top of the cheese.
  4. Cover the whole lot with olive oil.
  5. Clingfilm it and stick it in the fridge.
  6. After a few days (three’s probably a safe bet — any more and you’re dicing with death when it comes to preserving in oil) take it out and drain off the oil. Remove the juniper berries.
  7. Serve it on a plate with all of the onions and chillis from the dish, plus some small slices of red pepper.
  8. Eat it with a nice beer and some crusty bread.

Happy Christmas!