Beer and Cheese Club for May? Isn't it June? This is surely what you're asking yourself if you are paying attention, and you would be correct. Goose the Market actually did us one better this year and released May's Beer and Cheese Club during American Craft Beer Week. Perfect plan, right? We thought so, but unfortunately most of us were out of town or preoccupied when it was released! So here we are in June, reviewing May's selection. Surely you can find it in your beery hearts to forgive us?
New Albanian is a brewery that most Indiana beer connoisseurs are familiar with. The brewers of fan favorites such as Hoptimus, Beak's Best and Elector also produce a good number of new beers. A quick stop by their website or a beer review website will reveal dozens of options. The latest of their beers to make it into bombers are a pair of brews referred to as Hoosier Daddy (Crimson and Cream) and Black and Bluegrass. I couldn't fairly review the Crimson and Cream option (Boiler Up), so it's a good thing this month's Beer and Cheese Club pairs nicely with Black and Bluegrass, and interesting beer that is neither black, nor brewed with bluegrass. Instead, it is brewed with blue agave nectar, black peppercorns and lemongrass - hence, Black and Bluegrass.
Much as New Albanian is a household name when it comes to Indiana beer, Capriole Farms is equally as familiar in the Indiana cheese world. The famous producer of chevre can be found in most supermarkets across the city. Sofia, however, is not your run of the mill soft goat cheese. This cheese features a soft brie-like rind that encases a thin layer of liquidy goat cheese before giving way to a dense and creamy body. The marbling is actually ash, and not mold as you might expect. One taste of this cheese and you'll immediately recognize that this is something special.
If you're a member of the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market, your May installment is ready for you to pick up right now if you haven't already. If you're not a member, the club is $99 for 4 months. This month's delivery includes 2 bottles of Black and Bluegrass and about healthy chunk of Sofia. Either of these items would be great experiences on their own, but we feel they are even better when consumed together.
I forgot what the cheese was called Cheese: Although I don't consider myself a "cheese guy", on occasion we have one that really works for me, and I end up eating more than my fair share. This cheese was one of those. Sliced and smeared onto bread, this creamy capriole was slightly funky, but also really grassy and completely agreeable.
The beer and cheese in pair provide an earthy/herby melding experience with the beer complimenting and bringing out the creamy elements of the cheese. It's a complimentary pairing for both, as the cheese cuts a bit of the spiciness out of beer.
May's pairings both hail from about 10 miles apart in Southern Indiana. The cheese, Capriole Farms Sofia is a soft goat cheese with a vegetable ash coating. It is tangy, yet subtle and melts in your mouth. It was perfect on bread and none of us could stop eating it, as it was so tasty.
New Albany's Black and Bluegrass is a saison with worldly influence. Belgian yeast and German hops meet Blue Agave Nectar, lemon grass, and black pepper to form an interesting brew. The flavor reminded me so precisely of how a brewery smells at mash in. It was not as lively as other saisons and it seemed to have a heavier malt influence (at least for a saison), which was perfectly fine by me. A peppery spice finished the drink.
The beer and cheese were very nice together. I feel like I say it a lot, but pairing was harmonious, the best qualities of each brought out.
I was actually a little bewildered by the presentation of this cheese. It appeared that it would give way to a blue funkiness, but the aroma suggested otherwise. Similarly, with a name like Black and Bluegrass, I expected this beer to be black in color. Instead, Black and Bluegrass poured a deep copper and greeted with with sweet aromas of agave nectar, blueberries and basil. Blueberries? I honestly thought that's what the "blue" in this beer was, and even after I learned it was named after blue agave nectar, I could still smell blueberries. Odd. The flavor continued this pattern of blueberries, matched with lemon and chamomile that made me think of saison. A bit of neutral sweetness complimented by brown sugar filled out the body. There was a soapy characteristic that had me a bit puzzled, but after reading the ingredients I began to associate some aspects of this flavor with lemongrass.
Returning to Sofia, the cheese spreads like you would expect from a nice chevre. Super creamy and smooth. My first bite didn't contain any rind, so it quite simply was a rich, creamy goat cheese with a less acidic tangy flavor and more of a cream note. After sampling a bit with the rind, the oozing exterior brought to mind warm brie complete with everything that implies, but it quickly gave way to more of the creamy goat cheese. Spreading this on slices of baguette is a simple pleasure that should not be overlooked.
Both the beer and the cheese are incredibly complimentary. Sofia pulls some of the soapiness out of the beer and makes the lemongrass more obvious. The spices in the beer transfer seamlessly to the cheese and leave behind an amplified sweetness in the beer. While the cheese is rich, the effervescence of the beer helps break things up. Overall, this is definitely one of those combinations that may not slap you in the face with bold flavors, but both delicately balance each other. I certainly enjoy the beer more with the cheese, and the cheese more with the beer.
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.