24 February 2011

Beer and Cheese Club - February Edition

For the February edition of the Beer and Cheese Club, things have taken a quick turn toward adventurous.  This month's beer is an Oyster Stout from The Porterhouse Brewing Company.  Haven't heard of them before?  That's odd because they claim to be Ireland's largest genuine Irish brewery (Guinness is a bit international).  I don't know exactly what that means, but it does mean they're from Ireland!  This beer is quite literally brewed with oysters, so I hope we don't have any vegetarian friends currently enrolled in the club. 

The cheese that has been paired with our mollusk infused Irish stout is an interesting one from Westfield Farm simply named the Classic Blue Log.  The Classic Blue Log is a 4.5oz log of aged goat cheese that is both the flagship cheese of Westfield Farm and a first prize winner at the 1999 American Cheese Society Annual Judging.  One of only a few blue chevres in the world, it can easily be identified by its Roquefort rind and striking color.  In fact, its exterior color and texture may even be slightly off-putting!

If you're a member of the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market, your February installment is likely ready for you to pick up right now. If you're not a member, the club is $99 for 4 months. This month nets you 2 bottles of Porterhouse Oyster Stout and 2 logs of Westfield Farm Classic Blue. Either of these items would be great experiences on their own, but we feel they are even better when consumed together.

First came the bottles, which have pretty much the coolest caps I've ever seen.  Pull-tab pry-off caps!  I don't know why anyone hasn't done this before!  Before I tried the beer, the cheese was placed down in front of us and I have to admit that I was a bit bewildered.  I'm typically very adventurous with cheese, but the thick, fuzzy, blue-green rind looked a bit more like felt and not so much like cheese.  Regardless, I wasn't going to let that stop me.

I poured a glass of the Oyster Stout and took a whiff.  Lots of ash, charcoal and cocoa were present, all of which I associate with a good Irish stout.  Things were looking good.  At first, chocolate and roasted barley notes filled my mouth, but they were quickly met with an interesting brine-like salty note.  Obviously the brine was from the oysters, but I don't know if I'd be able to tell that if the bottle didn't tell me so.  The brine quality certainly balanced the stout very well.  At the finish, I picked up a noticeable floral hop character that I don't normally associate with Irish stouts but I found very complimentary to the briney flavor.

The cheese, while completely caked in a thick bloom rind, was incredibly soft with a cake-like center.  The rind was surprisingly mild, offering only slight musty blue cheese-like notes.  The cakey center was characteristic of the typical goat cheese tangy flavor and the soft surrounding was very creamy.  Really a very nice cheese, especially if you like goat cheeses.  When matched with the beer, the brine quality really paired with the bloom rind and the creamy cheese layer greatly intensified in sweetness.  Overall the cheese felt much more rich than on its own and the beer became more sweet and brought out chocolate and root beer flavors.  A very nice pairing for two very unique products.

Beer - cola-red colored, cloudy lacing. Sweetness in nose, you can definitely tell there's going to be a sweet element in the beer. Front is sweet, finish is chewy and a hint smoky

Cheese is wet/creamy, with a grassy light funk

Beer + cheese brings a saltiness (oysters!). Middle cakey cheese brings out ice creamy vanilla - milk shake? Ice cream soda float? Root beer float! Coffee tiramisu?

I suppose this is exactly what a beer and cheese club is all about: oyster stout, a style I'm not exactly familiar with, paired with a bleu goat cheese? Well, I'll try anything once. The beer starts with a nose of brine and charcoal and the taste follows the nose, with an additional hint of chocolate. Taken together with the creamy, funky cheese -- less salty and smoother textured than your average crumbly bleu cheese -- I found a noticeable sweetness in the beer, with an accentuation of the briney flavors. Additional brine with your cheese doesn't exactly scream "Try Me", but this pairing worked very well. It's safe to say that I never would have thought to select this pairing on name alone, but thanks to the Goose, I'm glad I got to try it.

To join the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market (in conjunction with Hoosier Beer Geek), check out this PDF and then either call Goose the Market at 317-924-4944 or stop in the shop at 2503 N. Delaware St.

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