Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beer and cheese are natural partners

Beer and cheese are natural partners. They require care and attention in production, share an extraordinary inherent diversity and, best of all, pair deliciously with each other.

But like beer, cheese can be complicated. Sure you can buy a block of "Cheddar" or "Swiss" in the supermarkets and make an acceptable grilled-cheese sandwich. But that's like limiting yourself to I.L.L.s (International Light Lagers). Today, there are thousands of artisinal cheeses available from around the world. They rival artisinal beers in their delicacy, complexity, and distinctive character of their flavors.

They also mirror artisinal beers in more frustrating ways. Many are made in limited quantities, and so take more effort to find. They can be more expensive, costing $30 per pound or even more, and they need special handling. And although some cheeses share the same name, not every producer delivers equal quality (similar to Miller calling its Lite a fine Pilsner). <...>

Try artisinal beers with some fine cheeses. A good marriage makes both partners better.

This was written by the editors of the Wine Spectator magazine.

Well, maybe not exactly.

It is indeed the Letter from the Editor ("This Issue") from the 30 September 2008 issue of the magazine (which I purchased on 20 August!). But I have redacted it, so that wherever Marvin Shanker and Thomas Matthews said wine, I said beer.
Black and Blue
Here's another passage from that same issue of Wine Spectator:
According to common lore, matching wine and cheese is a no-brainer. But when a rich, plush red wine meets a fresh, tangy chèvre, it causes an unpleasant tannin explosion in the mouth. And a delicate red Burgundy can turn nasty against the mold taste and creamy nature of a Roquefort.

So, try beer: saison with "tangy chèvre" and gueuze-lambic with tangier, aged goat cheeses.
The "classic" cheese plate—one fresh cheese, one hard, one blue, and one stinky and soft—doesn't work with wine. It's like trying to match one wine with oysters, fish, steak, and chili.

But such a plate does "work with" beer! One beer, chameleon-like, will play differently and successfully with each cheese.

Beware of softer-textured cheeses, which can make red wines taste thin and can emphasize the tannins. strong flavors tend to defeat red wines, tart goat cheeses can simplify them, and washed-rind cheese and blues compete harshly with their flavors.

My point is that beer and cheese can indeed be epicurean soul mates.

Keeping in mind that "there are no rules, only enthusiastic suggestions," one might find that there are no bad beer and cheese pairings. Most any beer will work well with cheese, and not against it. (An exception might be some unusually 'ingredient-ed' beers.)

Those smirking dismissals of beer and cheese pairing as being without merit —often expressed without a trial tasting— reveal themselves as vino solipsism. To be fair, there is this comment: "White wines hardly ever clash with cheese, mild or stinky, soft or firm."

The issue contains at least one advertisement for a beer: Stella Artois, an insipid lager produced by Budweiser's new owner, giant conglomerate InBev. Now, who's your daddy?

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I occasionally throw cheese tastings, and while the guests expect/insist on wine, I always find a way to throw a beer selection (or two) in the mix. I honestly think, as per Garrett Oliver, beer works better with cheese...or at least most cheeses! And I prefer beer to white wine any day of the week...


Comment here ...