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Beer & Cheese Pairings for Your Holiday Table

Cross-posted from my blog Paul and Amy on Beer


Last week my partner in crime, Paul, and I had a tree trimming party. To keep our party-goers sated, we wanted to offer up not just a selection of beers, but also a cheese plate that would complement our beverages. We experimented a bit and now we’re happy to share the results of our incredibly hard work. These are our four favorite beer and cheese pairings; feel free to use them at your own holiday table this year:

Holidale 2012

by Berkshire Brewing Co.
Barleywine Style Ale – 9.5% ABV – South Deerfield, MA
Beer Tasting Notes: Holidale 2012 is a very nice cold weather brew. It has lots of bitter orange, a very mild malt sweetness, and it’s very well balanced. There’s a hint of spiciness to it, perhaps from nutmeg. It’s not as rich or sweet as a traditional barley wine, but I also like that it’s not overwhelming with spices the way many holiday beers are.
Cheese Tasting Notes: Ombra, by Josep Cuixart in Navarre, Spain. This firm sheep’s milk cheese is slightly nutty with a hint of sweetness. Because it was well-aged (our hunk came from an 8-month-old wheel), it had started to develop a little of the grittiness from the crystallization of amino acids. The mellow, nutty, sweetness of the cheese went well with the rich, spicy, bitterness of the beer.

Attic & Eaves

by Slumbrew
Toasted Brown Ale – 7.5% – Ipswich, MA
Beer Tasting Notes: The Attic & Eaves is a deep brown and ruby red color in the glass and somehow manages to remind me of caramel and cream when I smell it. The flavor is toasty, nutty, and rich. This isn’t the most complex beer, but it’s warming and yummy. Simple and friendly and a great way for newbies to ease into dark beers.
Cheese Tasting Notes: Stilton, by Colston Bassett in Nottinghamshire, UK. This velvety, creamy cheese with its marbling of greenish blue veins was a perfect accompaniment to the Attic & Eaves. The toasty notes and slight bitternesss of the beer are completely mellowed by a cheese that might otherwise be overwhelmingly rich. I was surprised at how well these two went together, but this was by far my favorite pairing of the evening.

Choklat

by Southern Tier
Imperial Stout brewed with Chocolate – 10% – Lakewood, NY
Beer Tasting Notes: This pitch-black beer is chocolatey, with notes of vanilla and butter, but not a hint of sweetness. The high ABV makes it a sipping beer rather than something for serious drinking. The chocolate aroma makes it seem rich, but the bitter notes and lack of sweetness create a hearty drink that’s not for the timid beer drinker.
Cheese Tasting Notes: Delice de Bourgogne, by Fromagerie Lincet in Burgundy, France. This meltingly creamy cheese is similar to eating salted butter. It’s insanely rich, with a slight sour cream tang. It works perfectly with the dark bitterness of the Choklat.

Once Upon a Time – KK

by Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project
A recreation of a hoppy, black, ale originally brewed in London November 15th, 1901 – 7% – Somerville, MA
Beer Tasting Notes: This beer was an interesting choice for the holidays. It’s as dark as a porter, but more hoppy than most winter beers. It also has a nice butterscotch sweetness that helps to balance out the spicy bitterness of the hops. You might call this a black IPA, but I like it much more than traditional IPAs. The additional richness and sweetness works well to keep the bitterness in check.
Cheese Tasting Notes: Ascutney Mountain, by Cobb Hill in Hartland, Vermont. This Alpine-style tomme is made using Jersey cow’s milk. The cheese is firm and slightly crumbly with notes of grass, nuts, and earth. The Flavor wouldn’t work with a very rich beer, I think it competes, but with the IPA soul trapped in a dark beer body of the KK, it works perfectly.

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