20 July 2011

Beer and Cheese Club - July Edition

This month's edition of the Beer and Cheese Club keeps things regional with cheese from Coopersville, Michigan and beer from New Albany, Indiana. The beer, New Albanian's Hoptimus, is certainly no stranger to most fans of local beer. Oddly enough, we've never reviewed Hoptimus at Hoosier Beer Geek - though you can be sure we've drunk our fair share of it. Hoptimus is a bold and balanced Imperial IPA that stands up to any, featuring the use of Special Pale malts, Nugget and Cascade hops, and New Albanian's house English yeast. It weighs in right at 100 IBU.

Our cheese is Polkton Corners by Grassfield Farm, a family-made original recipe cheese where the cheese is not pressed, but rather shaped into squares. The cheese is made using cows' certified organic fresh (raw) milk, which is free of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Grassfield Farm practices rotational grazing and was the first Michigan farm to be licensed to make and sell raw milk cheese. The milk the farm doesn't use in making cheese is sold by Horizon.

Hoptimus is a really meaty beer - you almost feel like you can sink your teeth into it. Chewy, rich, and of course hoppy - but also balanced and lingering in a good way. This isn't a hit-you-over-the-head Imperial IPA - it's entirely too drinkable. I'm glad we shared the bottle between the three of us because I could have easily polished it off by myself.

Polkton Corners is an extremely creamy cheese that coats the mouth, also in a good way. It's a highly agreeable cheese - no funkiness here, just smooth buttery flavors. Of all the cheeses we've sampled in the Beer and Cheese club, it's the first one I can recall polishing off in one sitting. Together the beer and cheese (somehow) reminded me of a family fish fry - a batter-like sort of flavor that I enjoyed very much. Eating the rind lent a peanut-shell sort of flavor, one that I also appreciated.

I am ecstatic that the beer for this month is Indiana’s New Albanian Hoptimus. We’ve been lucky to feature great beers in our club, but it is really something special when we are able to highlight one from our own state. The beer alone has a chewy mouthfeel and has a prominent malt finish. The Cascade hops are notably showcased as well. This is a big beer at 10.7%, but it never feels that way throughout the glass.

The cheese, from Michigan, is an organic cow milk cheese. It is sublimely creamy with a bit of funk, which I presume comes from the grass the cows are fed. The more I ate, the more salty it seemed to get, which turned out to be quite pleasant when paired with the Hoptimus. Not only did the saltiness of the cheese go well with the sweet malt, the pairing really made the hops pop. The creaminess of the cheese seemed to make the hops stick to the top of my tongue while also presenting a peppery flavor on the sides.

I would also mention that the three of us nearly consumed the entire (and rather large) chunk of cheese post haste. I am pretty sure it is safe to say that we were really big fans of this one.

My notes have asterisked terms "CITRUS" and "salty barnyard". Sounds like an odd pairing, right? Not a bit -- these two gems left our table happier than pigs in shit. We're talking happy pigs, just the way The Goose likes it.

Polkton Corners is a just-barely-spreadable cheese with a rich, buttery texture. It's got a subtle bit of funkiness that's actually quite pleasant. Many of our readers are no doubt familiar with Hoptimus, but it's a wonderful Cascade blast of grapefruit citrus with just enough malt to balance it out. With the two paired, I found that the beer produced a brief, huge hops blast that gave way to the malt, showcasing the sweetness behind all the bitterness that's not as apparent when drinking the beer by itself. I've always loved Hoptimus, and experiencing this pairing has added layers to that love.

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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