04 February 2009

A lesson on beer and cheese

In case you're new around here, we aren't really experts at this. We just really like beer. We also really like trying to pair food with beer. Something we're all novices at is cheese, so instead of stabbing blindly in the dark at pairing cheese with beer we decided to enlist the help of some professionals. Enter Chris Eley and Gabe Jordan from Goose the Market. If you haven't been out there, they are in no short supply of craft beer or artisan cheeses. We asked if they would like to help us out and then dumped all of the responsibility in their laps. We're awesome like that.

Chris and Gabe came up with 6 beer and cheese pairings across a variety of styles:

Tomme de Savoie ($13/lb) paired with Coopers Sparkling Ale ($12.50/6pk)
- a lighter pairing of a creamy, slightly tangy cheese with a light sparkling ale

Marieke Gouda ($15/lb) paired with Hitachino Nest White Ale ($5)
- a sweeter gouda with a citrusy white ale

Carr Valley Menage ($17/lb) paired with Mad Anthony IPA ($11.50/6pk)
- a semi-hard sharp cheese with big hop flavor

Capriole Julianna ($25/lb) paired with Brasserie DuPont Avec les Bons Voeux ($12)
- an herb crusted cheese with a complex, spicy Belgian Holiday ale

Belletoie by Hutin ($10.50/lb) paired with Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout ($8.75/6pk)
- a decadent triple cream brie with a heavy, roasted stout

Valdeon Spanish Blue ($17/lb) paired with He'Brew Jewbelation Twelve ($6)
- a creamy and tangy blue with a bounty of hops and malts

Chris did an excellent job educating us to the nuances of cheese including how it is produced and the differences that rinds, washes and aging techniques impart on the cheese. Gabe presented the beers with a good background on each of them and why they chose the particular pairings. While we definitely can't claim to have picked everything up from this presentation, we learned a lot. Here's a few of our favorites.

My favorite pairing was the Gouda with Hitachino Nest White Ale. What stood out to me about this pairing was the fact that the cheese and the beer had contrasting yet complementary flavors. The cheese had wonderful nutty and caramel flavors (which were enhanced, if I remember correctly, by the addition of fenugreek in the cheese). The beer, which is brewed in the Belgian Wit style, was heavier on the spices than a typical Wit, resulting in an explosion of coriander, orange peel, and nutmeg notes. The spiciness of the beer melded perfectly with the sweet caramel character of the cheese to produce a combination that wouldn't be out of place as the dessert course of a fine meal. If I were able to give a mug rating to this pairing, it would be 5 mugs easily.

My 2 favorite pairings were:

Marieke Gouda with Hitachino White Ale. Both were delicious on their own, but together, the beer really brought out the caramel and orange flavors in the cheese.

Belletoile Brie with Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. This cheese really surprised me. It had an aroma of cheesecake, but the smoky flavor in the beer brought out a salty, almost fishy taste in the cheese. Not in a bad way, but quite the contrary.

What I learned from the tasting is that I need to eat more cheese. This was a really great experience and I'd love to try more beer and cheese pairings.

MATT E. Ah yes. The beer and cheese pairing. Having never been to Goose, I enjoyed the opportunity to look around a bit by getting there early. As a long-time fan of both beer and cheese I had virtually zero experience with pairing the two, so this was a learning experience. However, as with most HBG tastings I failed to learn that I should take better notes. Maybe I'll do better next time. Anyway, on to the review! According to the star next to it, the pairing I enjoyed the most was the "Menage" and the Mad Anthony IPA. This cheese from Carr Valley is composed of milk from ewes, cows, and nannies (I confess that I didn't know what a lady goat was called, so thank you Jimmy Wales!). The cheese offered a transition in flavor and texture as it melted in my mouth that brought out the different characteristics of cheese varieties from each ruminant that contributed to the mix. Tangy, sharp and creamy. All in one. The chimera cheese. Of course, the bitterness of the hops in the Mad Anthony IPA counteracted all three flavors and the overwhelming dryness of it made each alternation a new treat.

My favorite pairing was a semi-hard goat/cow/sheep's milk cheese called Menage (Carr Valley) with Mad Anthony IPA. This cheese had a tangy sharpness to it, very similar to a white cheddar, that locked up perfectly with the strong citrus hoppiness of this American IPA. A wonderful blending of very bold flavors.

Previous to this night, I had never tried a beer from Brasserie DuPont besides their famous Saison. This holiday ale was amazing and incredibly drinkable. The high alcohol content (9.5%) is masked almost too well. An abundance of spices are present, such as black pepper, cloves and orange zest. Perhaps this is why it worked well with a cheese encrusted in herbs. The rosemary, oregano and basil flavors from the cheese blended well into the already spicy beer while maintaining its dried apricot, banana and light malt flavors. A slight hint of candi sugar is present but it subdues to the intensity of the spices. I wouldn't expect a cheese with such a big herb flavor to be able to pair with a beer but this was very enlightening.

I'm always a fan of blue cheese, the moldier the better to me (is moldier even a word?), so when Chris presented us with the Valdeon Spanish Blue as the final pairing I was ecstatic. This blend of cow and goats milk wrapped in sycamore leaves and aged for two to three months is delicious. The hard and sticky rind balances out the salty, rich, creamy blue inside.

When you pair this with the He'Brew Jewbelation Twelve (12 malts, 12 hops, 12%) the pairing is simply twelve kinds of amazing. The balance of big malts and big hops hides the high ABV while catering to the pungent blue flavors. Instead of getting an overwhelming experience with a big beer and a big cheese the two meld together making a delicious combination. I think I could buy a few of these bombers to pair with a big wheel of the Valdeon and be satisfied for a very long time.

Huge thanks to Chris and Gabe for the time they invested in this, we had a great time. We all agreed that this would be a good event to repeat and open to the public if there was enough interest. Keep in mind that everything at Goose the Market rotates regularly based on season and availability, so the exact pairings we tried may not be available when you stop by. Never fear, the employees, especially Chris and Gabe, will gladly help you out with creating your own adventurous pairings.


  1. Actually, Hitachino Nest White Owl is just plain one of my favorite beers - love it with sushi.

  2. I can definitely see how that would be a great beer to pair with sushi. Definitely a step up from the standard Japanese lager that you see served at most sushi places, though Kirin Ichiban is pretty good stuff.

  3. This place looks very interesting. I know they are a market, but I saw on their website that they have sandwiches? I think? Anyone know what the menu is like and the price?

  4. Goose Blog has a list of their sandwiches in the left column.

    The Goose sandwich is great.

    Great, thanks. Now I'm hungry...

  5. The sandwiches are around $6.95 each I believe. They are amazing. I would eat the batali every day for the rest of my life.

  6. you guys are lucky bastards...

  7. Sounds like a fantastic experience. I'm really impressed by the staff; they put together an incredibly well rounded and thoughtful array of combinations.

    You raise a good point about contrasting flavours often working better than more intuitive pairings.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. I gotta say they really knocked it out of the park with this thing - hopefully it'll be a regular (and public) event for The Goose in the future.

    If you read this and visit The Goose, let them know you're interested in trying it yourself.