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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Beer Tutoring

tutored beer tasting for Lowell School, Washington, DCIt wasn't cheesy; in fact, it raised money for a good cause.

About 15 folk gathered in a private home last night in Washington, D.C. to participate in a tutored beer and cheese tasting. It had been bid on and won as one item in a charity auction to benefit the Lowell School, a private school in Washington, D.C.

Clipper City Brewing Company donated the beer, and I led the tasting.

  • Oxford Raspberry Wheat ... with Saint André triple-creme
  • Small Craft Warning Uber Pils ... with Manchego
  • Peg Leg Imperial Stout ... with Bassett-Colton Stilton
  • Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale ... with aged Gouda
  • Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale ... with Grayson from Meadow Creek
  • Below Decks Barleywine ... with chocolate.
I had originally planned to mate the Small Craft Warning with Everona from Rapidan, Virginia. It's a marvelous sheep's milk cheese with a firm paté and grassy/floral finish. The dairy is aging its 2007 cheese, so none was available. We substituted with Spanish Manchego.

I believe strong stout and Stilton to be one of the great beer and cheese pairings. (The combination does not succeed with Guinness. There's not enough there, there.) To put it inelegantly, the mold of the cheese softens the roast of the stout, and the roasted bite of the beer does the same for the funk of the cheese. There were converts last evening.

Grayson is a washed-rind Tellegio-like cheese from the Meadow Creek dairy of Galax, Virginia, close to the North Carolina line. It has a strong pungent aroma (read: stinky!) and a soft paté. It mates well with the herbally aromatic Loose Cannon.

For the Below Decks, a barleywine with a nutty/caramelly taste, I had planned to bring along vanilla caramel white chocolates from Chocolates by Cacao of Olney, Maryland. But they didn't make it out of my home refrigerator. So I substituted with dark chocolates from a local supermarket.

Eyebrows are often arched in surprise when I mention beer and cheese together. My flippant retort is that "you may be the only American who has never ordered pizza," pointing out that beer so often accompanies a pie.

But I truly believe that wine fights cheese (and I don't dislike a good bottle of wine). The tannins of a Bordeaux are unpleasant in combination with cheese. The Wine Spectator of September 2005 said as much. And here is a study which purports to show the same.

More photos here.

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