Wine & Cheese and Port & Cheese, just like Prince Wills and Kate or Posh ‘n Becks, are well known and well loved pairings, but not necessarily to everyones tastes. So, how about Beer and Cheese?
Beer and cheese is a pairing that actually makes more sense and although it’s not a match most people would automatically think of, it’s one that’s been around for a long, long time. The Belgian monasteries for example, would produce both beer and cheese as a source of income and to pimp up their diets. This was back in the Middle Ages, but Belgians still serve pots of cubed cheese as a bar snack alongside their beers, something that (IMO) would be very welcome in British pubs instead of packets of overly salted nuts or the current chilli rice cracker trend.
It’s not just the Belgians though. Cast your mind to the traditional ‘Ploughman’s’, this English pub classic is testament to the pairing of cheese and ale. Besides, they are both farmhouse products and the grains used to produce beer are often the same that feed the milk- animals who produce the cheese.
Beer and Cheese, like Brad and Angelina, are meant to be!
This is a concept backed by Horsham brewery WJ King (the beer pairing, not necessarily Brangelina), who this weekend welcomed a vintage bus full of food fans into the brewery, along with La Cave a Fromage, and showed them how to pair a decent pint with a classy cheese.
The session kicked off with Ian from King’s giving everyone the low down on what King’s ales are all about. David from La Cave a Fromage then gave a run through of the cheeses he brought along for the pairings. The pairings and tasting notes went a little bit like this;
1. Lord of the Hundreds – an award winning ewe’s milk cheese from The Traditional Cheese Dairy. A hard cheese with hints of caramelised hazelnuts. Naturally sweet with a savoury balance. This was paired with King’s English style IPA – a distinctly hoppy ale with citrus fruit aroma. The sweetness of the cheese compliments the hoppiness of the IPA.
2. Mayfield Swiss – A handmade Swiss style cow’s milk cheese from the East Sussex Creamery. Similar in style to Emmenthal, this cheese has fruity and nutty flavours with a melt in the mouth texture, complemented by King’s Brighton Best – a real ale palate cleanser with flavours of apricot, orange and hints of caramel that cut through the creamy quality of the Swiss style cheese.
3. Golden Cross – this Goat’s cheese is produced by Kevin and Alison Blunt at their farm in East Sussex and showcases a range of flavours from subtle and floral to something more intense, all with a dense and silky texture but overall a fine, creamy and delicate cheese. The beer match was with King’s Brighton Blond – Golden, pale and hoppy with a mild citrus character, slight dryness and bitterness to finish, all of which work to bring out the creamy notes of the goat’s cheese.
4. Burwash Rose – another product from The Traditional Cheese Dairy, this time with a slight pink around the rind from being washed in Rose Water. This is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, creamy with an aroma that coats the palate. Teamed up with King’s ale Horsham Best – a beer boasting roasted malt flavours much like that of a cheese biscuit. Malty sweetness from the beer matches the sharper, salty notes of the cheese.
5. Brighton Blue – a blue cow’s milk cheese from the High Weald Dairy, boasting a semi- soft texture and a mellow flavour with only a hint of a blue vein and a lightly salted finish. King’s Old Ale has the bitter, malty sweetness needed to go head to head with the pungency of a blue cheese, the chocolate like flavours of the ale combining perfectly with the sweet, salty and creamy nature of the Brighton Blue.
So there you have it! Clues as to how to match your beers and your cheeses. The enthusiasm of both Ian and David certainly inspired those who were there on the day and now you too are encouraged to seek out local ales and local cheeses and pair them up. Will you go down the creamy route with your cheese? Will you find a hoppy citrus style ale to pair it with? Next time you have a dinner party, gathering of mates or are down the pub, give it a go! Oh, and encourage your local to replace those mini cheddars with real cheddar!