Saturday, May 9, 2009

Aly's Intro: Cinco de Mayo Beer and Cheese Tasting Notes

This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which
the Lord has intended a more divine form of consumption.
Let us give praise to our maker and glory to His bounty
be learning about beer.
--Friar Tuck

There is a reason why monks are known to brew beer and make cheese. Perhaps it is because beer and cheese make people happy, and the production of these products serves the community around them, or perhaps the process of manipulating basic ingredients into something beautiful is a near-holy experience in itself. Whatever the reason is, there is no denying that the pairing of a bubbly brew with a delicious cheese is a divine one.

Naturally, when asked to conduct the first beer event of the year for Surfas, I relished the opportunity. What better way to kick off our Beer Series at Surfas than by paying homage to this time-old traditional pairing? I picked five beers and cheeses that I thought would illustrate the range and flexibility in which these two things could be paired and enjoyed.

1. Old Speckled Hen (5.2% ABV) -- Greene King Brewery; Bury St. Edmunds, UK
Beecher's Flagship Cheddar
(Beechers Creamery; Seattle Washington) melted on French Baguette crostinis, topped with Jamon Serrano
--This English Pale Ale and Cheddar share a common terroir ((UK)). The sharpness of cheddar picks up the maltiness and caramel notes of the English Pale Ale, as well highlight the apricot and nutty flavor.

2. Blue Star Wheat (4.5% ABV) – North Coast Brewing Co.; Ft. Bragg, CA
Acapella Goat Chevre (Andante Creamery; Sonoma, CA)
-- The citrusy notes of the Belgian Witbier complement the slight tartness of the chevre, while the banana and fruity notes pick up the sweetness. Carbonation refreshes and cleans the palate from the creaminess, as if to invite taste buds for another tasting.

3. West Coast IPA (7% ABV) – Green Flash Brewing Co; Vista, CA
Grayson (Meadow Creek, VA)
--The bold flavor of this stinky cheese stands up to the 95 IBU (bittering level) of the hops in this India Pale Ale. The fresh grassy elements of the hops pair well with the creamy, intensely perfumed cheese.

4. Gouden Carolus Cuvee van der Keizer (10% ABV) -- Brouwerij Het Anker; Mechelen, Belgium
Five Year Vintage Gouda (Holland)
--Caramel and fruit notes of the cheese will match the deep raisiny notes of the strong dark ale. The dry finish of this Belgian ale intensifies the creamy butterscotch notes of the Gouda.

5. Cucapa Barleywine – (ABV 10%) Cucapa Brewing Company; Mexico:
Saint Agur (Auvergene, France)
--The intensity of this beer needs an equally intense cheese. Creaminess complements the
sweet dessert like quality of the beer, as well as the syrupy mouthfeel. Tastes of dark fruit complement the saltiness of the St. Agur, which marry well in this low carbonated brew.

If you're looking to try something new but don't know where to start, or are already a beer aficionado looking for something different, we carry all of the above beers and cheeses at Surfas and I encourage you to give these pairings a try.

Fellow beer-geek? Shoot an email my way with your name ((just first name, don't try to get fresh with me)), favorite beer/style of beer, favorite way to drink it ((pairings, glasses)) and if you're a homebrewer, what was your last brew? I'd love to hear your feedback on these pairings, whether positive or constructive. :D

I'll see you at rounds. Cheers!

Aly Iwamoto
Surfas Cheese and Charcuterie Lady
Beer Lover, Enthusiast, and Brewer

hey.beermeplz at

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