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Barely Buzzed with Beer

10906 Barely Buzzed with Beer

The idea of adding flavorings to cheese, either into the paste or onto the rinds, is something that many cheese lovers dismiss, as though the curd alone has the final word. Yet with all the influences of cultures, rennets and secondary cultures on the aroma, flavor and texture of cheeses, it is not entirely fair to write off a cheese that has some other flavoring added. In the case of the multiple award-winning Barely Buzzed it is a mixture of a Turkish grind of coffee beans from South America, Central America and Indonesia, with a little French Lavender thrown in for good measure.

The cheese starts off as a cheddar type, not too acid or salty, but smooth-flavored and well-balanced. The coffee and lavender rub add the signature “buzz.” Without the rub the cheese is rather mild but delicious. Generally the “unflavored” cheddars pair well with virtually all kinds of beers, as well as with many types of wines. In the case of the Barely Buzzed the coffee and lavender do not overwhelm the underlying milk flavor. The cheese has balance, a quality that must be present to deliver multiple pairing possibilities.

Barely Buzzed is firm, like cheddars should be, but still retains a little moisture. Firm cheeses also deliver far more successes in pairings with beers and wines than do the softer cheeses. Pasteurized cheeses present fewer challenges to beverage partners than do the raw-milk varieties, as much as we may love them. Barely Buzzed is crafted from pasteurized milk so those potential challenges to pairing successes are largely eliminated. This gives this cheese another leg-up in good marriages with beverages.

In a recent planning session for an upcoming class on Craft American Beers and Cheeses, we tasted the Barely Buzzed against a broad spectrum of beers. After seeing that it was pairing well with each of the first several beers, we decided to leave it as a good mate for beers, period. Our beer expert, Candela, will go into greater detail about how beer and cheese pair well together in the upcoming Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese with Coney Island Lagers/Schmaltz Brewing Company class.

Just to make it clear here, because the pasteurized cheeses present fewer “challenges” to successful pairings does not mean that the raw milk cheeses do not marry as well. When the uncompromised cheeses pair well with a beverage the marriages can be sublime.

Spread the curd!
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