22 September 2011

Beer and Cheese - September Edition

This month, we feature old and bleu.  The beer is North Coast Old Stock Ale, from North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, California and the Cheese is from Onetik, located in the Aquitaine Province of France, in Basque Country.  It is made with 100% Sheep Milk and has a natural rind.  

You may not think of Old Ales when you think of a great beer, but they are certainly worth your time and attention.  The nose on the beer is heavy on the malt, with a sweet, almost fruity tinge.  It comes in at a whopping 11. 7% ABV, but the alcohol heat seemed subtle to me, both in smell and taste.  The body of the beer was pleasant, as it seemed to match the sweet flavor, which was apparent but not cloying.  

I thought the cheese was spectacular (I don’t know much about cheese, but I know what I like).  It presented a nice bleu flavor without being overwhelming, as some varieties of bleu can get.  It is smooth and creamy with nice bits of bluish green.  Normally, I am not a fan of the rind, but I usually like to try it anyway.  In this case, I was completely surprised at how much I liked it.  Rinds can resemble burnt tree bark in some cases, but this one was soft and didn’t change the flavor of the cheese, instead it lends a pleasant, nutty addition.
Both the beer and cheese were fantastic on their own, and I am pleased with the combination also.  They carry their own flavors well when together, just like they do when they are on their own.  Only slight textural differences occur, as the beer lightens the creaminess of the cheese. 

Thanks to Jordan and Vinnie for interesting conversation and good company!

Old Stock Ale - grapey nose, sweet malt, german dopplebock time. Alcohol up your nose, warming, but not messy, not loud, just bold and rich.

Cheese - wow this is the most flavorful cheese we've had yet. Extremely funky, but the beer stands up - all in all a very rich combination.

Late addition to the party...

I found the Old Stock Ale to be rich in the aromas of slightly burnt brown sugar, caramel, raisins and figs.  Definitely the signs of a barley wine.  The beer itself didn't carry any surprises, following up with the same tell-tale description of brown sugar and figs.  A balanced alcohol warmth let you know that the beer was strong, but not undrinkable.  This Old Ale carries many similarities with English barleywines, which are known for their ability to be equally enjoyed fresh or aged.

Barley wine and blue cheese could be a chapter in itself in the book of beer and cheese pairings.  The two go notoriously well together.  The Bleu des Basques was simultaneously strong and mellow.  The traditional blue flavor from the mold was in perfect harmony with the salty, creamy cheese that encased it.  This definitely stood out among blue cheeses that I've had.  When matched with the Old Stock Ale, the creaminess and tang of the mold helped thin out the warm alcohol and bring out almond and macadamia flavors that would otherwise be unnoticeable.  The sweetness of the beer is reduced and many bread-like qualities emerge as well.  Overall just a great example of how barley wine (or old ale) and blue cheese compliment each other so well.

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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