As we bid farewell to flip-flops and sunscreen, it’s time to welcome flannels, pumpkin-spiced everything, and, of course, some seriously scrumptious pairings. That’s right, autumn is here, and we’ve got a lineup of cheese and cider & beer combos that’ll make your taste buds do the happy dance. So, grab your favorite sweater, cozy up, and get ready to fall in love with these delightful fall pairings!
Beer – Trappist Ale
Joshua M. Bernstein, Fall 2011
Brewing beer is a democratic endeavor. Given resources and time, any skilled brewer can craft a bitter India pale ale or a coal-colored stout. But it takes more than talent to create a Trappist ale, an honor reserved for select pious men. To earn money for their orders, monks make and sell goods such as clothing, cheese, and, at a handful of abbeys, some of the world’s rarest, most revered beer.
As a term, “Trappist” doesn’t refer to a single beer. Instead, Trappist ales run the stylistic gamut. Above all, many are belly warmers, boasting elevated booze levels (typically 7 to 11 percent alcohol by volume) that ensure you’ll sip them nice and slow. To receive the Trappist designation, the beer must be brewed within a Trappist abbey under the order’s supervision. In addition, most proceeds must be earmarked for charity.
The select club counts only six Trappist breweries—five in Belgium, including Chimay, which also makes its own cheese, and Koningshoeven (La Trappe) in the Netherlands. Many commercial Belgian and American breweries have released their own takes on Trappist suds. You’ll often see them identified as abbey beers.
Monica Petrucci, Autumn 2020
Apple cider is as American as, well, apple pie. It’s been part of our culture since European settlers brought apple seeds across the pond just to brew the boozy beverage, back when the fruit itself was deemed too bitter to enjoy on its own. This trend caught on, especially in New England and the Northwest where apple harvesting thrives. Hundreds of apple varieties are available to today’s cideries, who use them to make increasingly sophisticated ciders with diverse flavor profiles.
“Cider as a category has been growing steadily since 2012,” says Andrew Byers, lead cidermaker at Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum, Washington. And it’s no longer just the sweet stuff college kids buy on grocery store shelves; its flavors have evolved for every palate. “We are also blessed with a growing crop of bitter sweets and bitter sharps to make profound and complicated ciders that truly call to the connoisseur,” Byers says.
Chris Allsop, Cheese+ 2017
Craft cider has seen a revival in America—it’s time for perry’s star turn. All three of the commonly found styles are a hit with cheese. Traditional perry—the kind Napoleon enjoyed—is made from bitter pears with tough, speckled skins and may be either sparkling or still.
“Think of a semi-dry white wine, but half the alcohol,” says Charles McGonegal of Wisconsin’s ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery. “Floral nose, distinctly pear- ish, but not fresh Bartlett pear. Maybe lemony. A tiny hint of vinegar.”
Fruitier and more floral than its traditional cousin, modern perry is typically created from less acidic Bartlett and Bosc pears (in combination or alone)— the sweeter fruits sold at the supermarket. Producers tend to leave more residual sugar in these brews to suit present-day palates. Similar to dessert wine, super-sweet, high-alcohol dessert perry boasts notes of juicy Bartlett pear, apricot, and spiced apple.