23 August 2011

Beer and Cheese Club - August Edition

 For the August edition of the Beer and Cheese Club, we visit our old Belgian friend Delirium Tremens.  Or perhaps as it is better known, the pink elephant beer.  To pair with the pink pachyderm, we have an interesting goat's milk cheese from nearby Champagne, IL.  If you've had Delirium Tremens before, you probably are aware that it is an easy drinking, balanced Belgian ale.  Moonglo, from Prairie Fruits Farms, is certainly a cheese to match that same description - except the Belgian part.

While most beer drinkers know Delirium Tremens by name, they may not know that the brewery that produces it is Huyghe Brewery.  While the brewery structure itself dates back to the 1650s, Huyghe has only been around since 1906.  That's fairly young when compared to many Belgian breweries!  Even younger still is Delirium Tremens, being first released in 1989.  At the World Beer Cup in 1998, Delirium Tremens was declared to be the best beer in the world - a slogan that still adorns Delirium Tremens ads today.  Delirium Tremens weighs in at 8.5% ABV, but you certainly wouldn't guess that from drinking it.  

Prairie Fruits Farm was actually started by a couple of scientists - not your typical farm origin.  Moonglo is a raw goat's milk cheese that features an incredibly dense rind that was rinsed with brine and pear leaf tea.  The tea is actually made from fruit treas on the farm and the cheese itself is made from the milk of Nubian and LaMancha goats raised on the farm.  Moonglo has 2 years of age on it and while the rind is a bit tough, the cheese inside is only mildly firm.

If you're a member of the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market, your August 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's delivery will be a 750mL bottle of Delirium Tremens and about a half a pound of Moonglo. Either of these items would be great experiences on their own, but we feel they are even better when consumed together.

Prairie Fruits Farm Moonglo vs Delirium Tremens - science cheese! This cheese is tomme style, which means I don't know what. Nubian goats! LaMancha goats! This is crazy stuff.

Powdery, dry, rind is grassy - taken together, they're a very "farmy" combination - invoking outdoorsy, earthy, pasture-like farmy jams. I prefer it with the rind attached.

DT - An old favorite. Punchy apple cider nose, straw colored, a head that sits on top like a fingerprint. Drinking brings out candy grape flavors.

Together? Beer finishes the cheese nicely, and there's no reason to complain as they both taste lovely, but in this case I'm not sure anything is added by the mix.

Delirium Tremens is a beer carries a mild aroma that brings to mind honey, lemon, pear and cardamom. The beer itself carries a bit of a spicy character, as many Belgian beers do.  A honey sweetness complemented by preserved lemon and lavender notes rounds out the flavor profile.  While the beer is a bit warming, it doesn't warm in the same way some bigger boozy beers do.  The finish is fairly dry with a bitter sensation that is closer to pith than hops.

Moonglo reminds me slightly of a very mild cheddar with a dense unleavened bread-like rind.  While you might be apprehensive about consuming a rind this thick, I assure you the flavor is very neutral and complements the cheese well.  When combining both the cheese and beer, no big revelations or fireworks take place as with some of the other pairings we've experienced in the BCC.  The sweetness in Delirium Tremens drops out and the spicy notes come to the front, which brings out a bit of the tea notes in the dense rind.  Really these two just simply complement each other.  No one greatly enhances the other, but their flavor profiles seem to be designed to work together perfectly.

I began tasting this cheese with the rind off and it's soft-ish, tangy with a pleasant amount of salt and a hint of barnyard.  Leave the rind on and you'll get a heaping blast of that barnyard taste.  Taken with Delirium Tremens, I found that the cheese brought out the fruitier aspects of beer -- a big fruity taste lingered right on the center of my tongue -- and that you got a nice bit of pepper and clean noble hops bitterness at the end that freshened your mouth for the next bite of cheese.  This is an enjoyable pairing but it didn't wow me like some other offerings from the club.

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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