American Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese

Shmaltz cropped 1 American Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese

The explosive growth in the domestic craft beer industry mirrors the growth in the American artisanal cheese industry. A surging growth in each has been coupled with major improvements in quality. The per capita consumption of beer has not soared as dramatically as that for cheese but the quality of beer produced and consumed has risen steadily, as it has for cheese. Beer connoisseurs seem to be happy with the beers by themselves, though finding successful pairings with fine cheeses brings even greater appreciation for those craft beers; the nuances of the many different beer styles are highlighted by good cheese partners.

One of the more pleasurable tasks we have here is to plan for our classes sampling a broad variety of beverages with a broad variety of our cheeses. We discuss the synergies; pick up subtleties in both the cheeses and the beers, synergies that we might not detect when each is tasted on its own. These planning sessions may sound like simple fun but we do take these exercises rather seriously. In preparation for our next American Craft Beer event highlighting Schmaltz Brewing Company we worked with a couple of their experts: Jennifer Dickey and Michael Pearson. Joining us was my colleague, Matt Bonano, our cave manager and a beer aficionado himself. The four of us contrasted seven different lagers and ales with thirteen perfectly ripened cheeses.

We did not expect that we could realistically taste all 91 combinations in the time we had allotted but we did make a good go of it. Sure enough, each of the beers had its own preferences for cheese partners. Recording the pairings provided a roadmap for a successful event. By “successful” I mean an event where the nuances in the cheeses and beers will be most clearly recognized, and/or new flavors will emerge.

For those that argue that beer makes the best pairing beverage for cheese, I can say that none of the pairings were bad, most of them were very good, and several of them were outstanding. The people that come to the American Craft Beer evening here are in for a great evening. Our own beer expert, Ms. Candela Prol, will be hosting this event and will be joined by Jennifer and Michael as featured guests.

Spread the curd!
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