Thursday, January 04, 2007

Beer and cheese - a perfect match

Wine, and not beer, has been considered the customary drink to serve with cheese. Everytime I've had cheese at a dinner it has always been with red wine. A month ago, or so, I had beer with cheese at a local restaurant here in Oslo. That was a pleasant surprise. The proposed beers were Nøgne Ø Porter and Aass Bock. I chose the bock to go with the four cheeses. This was truely a mind-opener.

On New Year's Eve we tried a beer and cheese pairing with a couple of friends. Four cheeses and four beers. This was the third dish, served just before dessert and after the main course. This is what we had:
I am a bit disappointed with Brie as it can be very dull and tasteless sometimes. Quite a few of them are produced for the mass market, much like the yellow swill you can get in bottles. This one in particular was really dull and tasted almost nothing, but it did have the texture and oiliness of the style. The spicy saison handled the oiliness wonderfully, but it would have been nice with a more characterful cheese. Try a matured Brie instead, or perhaps even a Camembert.

The Taleggio had much more character and matched the sweetness in the Belgian amber ale nicely.

It seems really hard to get hold of good Manchego cheese here in this country. Either it is too dry or too rubbery. This one was too rubbery and had almost no flavour. The weissbier was thought to be a great match with almost any kind of cheese, even this one.

All cheese plates need a blue cheese of some sort, this one included. Since I knew that at least one of the diners did not like blue cheese I settled with a mild one, a Saint Agur. A characterful cheese needs a characterful beer to balance the sharpness. The porter handled the job nicely.

Knowing which kind of cheese goes with what kind of beer is not very obvious, but after having tried this I'd say that it is really hard to go wrong. Pairing cheese and beer is fun. Give it a try.

To get you started, here are a few articles on the subject: [1], [2], [3]


Knut Albert said...

If you want a brie, go for a stinky unpasteurized one - but then the beer should be big enough to match.
My favourite? Young's Special London Ale with a mature Stilton. Some walnuts, too.

grove said...

Yes, rich and flavourful unpasteurized Brie sounds much better...

I'll try the Special London with Stilton next time. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Anastasia said...

The fat content of cheese tends to overwhelm most any beer, though I suppose some pairings are conceivable. Randy Mosher has some interesting insights in this regard. Thanks for an interesting blog.