20 October 2011

Beer and Cheese Club - October Edition

October brings us a beer from an English brewery that has the mentality of an American brewery - Thornbridge.  You might recognize their Jaipur IPA, as it is being picked up by bars across the country.  The Beer and Cheese Club selection is their Saint Petersburg Russian Imperial Stout, a style you might not expect out of an English brewery.  The matching cheese is a Gouda on the opposite end of the international scale, originating next door in Fithian, IL.

Thornbridge opened up in 2005 with the goal of putting a modern twist on classic English styles.  Six years, and over 200 awards later, Thornbridge is distributed all over the United States and is becoming the face of English craft brewing.  The Saint Petersburg Russian Imperial Stout is perhaps a little outside of what you would expect from the style.  Weighing in at a relatively low 7.7% ABV, Saint Petersburg lends some of its flavor to its selection of hops and doesn't dominate the palate as many American varieties do.

Ludwig Farmstead is the creamery that produces the Gouda paired with the Saint Petersburg Russian Imperial Stout.  While the farm has been raising Holstein cattle since 1936, their current head cheesemaker includes Traders Point on his resume - specifically their Fleur de la Terre.  This Gouda is aged for 4 months, which is relatively young for Gouda, and carries a significantly smoother texture than many examples of the style.

If you're a member of the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market, your October 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 include Saint Petersburg and around half a pound of Gouda. Either of these items would be great experiences on their own, but we feel they are even better when consumed together.

The nose on the beer was sweet, and slightly reminiscent of a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce.  The mouthfeel is yeasty and full with a lot of chocolate undertones.  The warming effect that generally comes with this style was moderately low, though in line with the ABV of the beer.

Gouda!  You can't go wrong with this type of cheese, in my opinion.  It has a creamy, mouth-coating tang with a mild finish.  This cheese is very approachable and it is easy to take bite after bite.  Its heritage is relatively local, coming from just over the Indiana border in Fithian, Illinois, at the Ludwig Farmstead.

The pairing was very complimentary.  Each had voluminous texture, but played well together.    Thanks to Goose, for another great month!

When seeing that Saint Petersburg only carried a 7.7% ABV for an imperial stout, I was certainly skeptical.  It certainly looked like a stout, and with aromas of chocolate, molasses and a hint of smoke, it smelled like a big stout too.  The flavors of chocolate, cherry, lemon, molasses, lactose sugar and smoke all fell in line with what I expect an imperial stout to carry as well.  Where this beer differed, was in its much lighter mouthfeel.  There was no lingering alcohol warmth and no oily sensation that coated the mouth.  It seems only fitting that a culture known for its perfection of the session beer, that we find an imperial stout that you could enjoy more than one of.

Pairing a Gouda with this beer was a new experience for me.  My cheese vocabulary is lacking, but this Gouda reminded me a lot of a white cheddar.  Dry, tangy and sharp, this cheese was a bit on the sweeter end and was very slightly nutty.  The cheddar-like tang blended excellently with the roasted and chocolate flavors of the stout.  The beer and cheese worked together in harmony, complimenting without detracting or overpowering each other.  A hint of cherry and lemon was brought forward in the beer, but not so much as to create an imbalance of the intended flavors.  I very much enjoyed the way the two worked together.

Thornbridge Saint petersburg imperial russian 7.7% + ludwig farmstead gouda.

Stout - sweet nose, creamy slighty chewy mouthfeel, dry roast, dark fruits, finishes sweet + chewy, sessionable at 7.7,

Cheese: bite! Rich, slightly mealy, fruity almost pineapple bit closer to the rind, tangy, tasty.

With bigger drinks come a sort of ice cream sweetness that meets in the middle

Not the most earth shattering pairing, but both elements are tasty and rewarding in their own rights.

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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