It’s beer time, you turkeys! Let’s pick something out of the ever-expanding pantheon of the world of malt, hops and yeast and see how it gets down with another one of my favorite fermented products- cheese. If my insides would support it, and my gut would just go away, I could exist solely on beer, cheese, and bread. At the end of a long day, a simple meal of cheese, bread, maybe some cured meats or pickled products can be the most satisfying. Maybe throw in some sweatpants and house shoes, just for circulation purposes.
My mind is usually all over the place, so the goal here is to exercise a focus in pairings. My idea is to take three beers of a specific style and pair them with three different cheeses. For a bonus, there will be one accoutrement to rule them all, to tie the whole thing together, if you will. So maybe this is really just an accoutrement challenge…and relish is an accoutrement…and hot dogs go good with relish…and baseball season is coming! And…back to the beer, right.
When I’m choosing a beer to drink, 9 times out of 10 my pick is going to be driven by the weather. Since we’re in the middle of this fabulous winter-spring mix, what sounds good today could sound ridiculous tomorrow. So for arguments sake, let’s go with a cold weather favorite – Stout. Stout is fantastic- it’s dirty, roasted bitterness makes me want to roll around in damp top soil wearing nothing but a loincloth and goggles. But the world of stout is, like most styles of beer these days, wide and varied…best to hone it in a bit. We’re going to take a look at three different domestic stouts, all of the imperial range, meaning higher ABV, bolder flavors, heavier body, and more smiles from ol’ Naters.
First up: Flying Dog Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout- 8.9% ABV, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD. I’ve always liked the look of the bottles form these guys and the Ralph Steadman art, but have never really found that one beer in their line that would keep me coming back. Let’s see if this guy does the trick: Robust and velvety, this big dog stout has hints of soil and bananas on the nose and a drinkable body. The toasted bitterness is pleasant, with chicory and baker’s chocolate notes. The finish leaves a clean and bright bitterness that knows not to overstay its welcome.
This beer would like to spend 15 minutes in the back seat of mom’s Volvo with a nice chunk of Rogue River Caveman, a raw cow’s milk blue cheese from beautiful Oregon. Be bold folks. Dirt tastes good. Just don’t eat it from McCarren Park.
Second victim: The Dogfather from Laughing Dog Brewing in exotic Indiana, Ponderay to be exact, clocking in at a whopping 10.9% ABV. The label is adorable, although the thought of dogs being able to fire guns…actually that’s pretty cool. Toasted hazelnuts, dark roasted coffee bounce out of the head. It smells boozy…esther, that’s her name. Smooth, rich texture and a super silky finish. It’s like bitter chocolate pudding that gets you drunk. Has all the earthy stuff I want in a stout and isn’t all chewy thick.
The Dogfather would like to have a sitdown with Tomme Berger, a washed rind blend of goat and sheep milk from France. The sweetness of the milk has wonderful interplay with the sugars in the beer, and they both have just enough bitterness to keep you questioning what you are tasting as they evolve while you sip and snack.
Finally we get to Lyons, Colorado’s own Oskar Blues Brewery and their Ten Fidy Imperial Stout (alas, I couldn’t find another dog themed beer). Kicking at 10.5 ABV, it will probably get your ’75 Monte Carlo to the repair shop and back in a pinch. It really is drinkable motor oil; delicious, round motor oil. Barely any head comes form the pour and it smells like the next day’s campfire. Slightly sweet caramel and chocolate flavors bounce off the heavy texture as it gently slides down the gullet.
A beer of this nature needs something washed and buttery. I like it with Rebolchon Kuntener, a raw cow milk cheese from Switzerland. The textures of both these products can be described with one word: LUSH.
Accoutrement grand prize winner: Larchmont Charcuterie Beef Saucisson Sec! Musty and funky, this chunk of meat has the beef to hold up to these large brews. Made by a nice Frenchman just outside the city, I’ve become quite the fan of these products- it’s a nice switcheroo from pork sausages.
So there you have it- go forth and build your own dinner of cheese, meat, and regal brews and thank yourself before, during, and most definitely after. Until next time, when we go deep behind the scenes in Belgium, don’t forget about your good friend beer.
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