Posts Filed Under The ‘Beer and Cheese’ Category

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Colorado Cheese Festival

max w goats e1383596155889 Colorado Cheese Festival

The appetite for cheese in Colorado appears to be rising faster than ever. Little surprise then that artisan cheese making is enjoying an uptick to satisfy that growing demand. Artisanal cheese production has been in existence for decades here but now the industry is booming. Craft beers are a big thing in Colorado too, which helps to grow the cheese appreciation.

The fifth annual Colorado Cheese Festival was held in Longmont this year, about an hour north of Denver. The festival enjoyed record-breaking attendance even though it was not in Denver itself. Several Denver denizens made the drive up, but there were other participants from all over the state as well as a number from out of state.

John Scaggs of Haystack Creamery brought four of his goats to the festival this year, two Nubians and two La Manchas, beautiful and gregarious animals. They stayed out in the parking lot munching on hay and taking in all the attention. When a small plane flew overhead all four of them looked up to see what it was. Curious, too. They held their gaze on the plane until it was out of sight.

Inside the convention center hundreds of cheese lovers were milling about, visiting cheese makers’ kiosks and attending sessions. I was asked to conduct a pairing session on cheese and beer. Turned out to be a big hit. Along with the Oskar Blues beers a local gin and coffee liqueur were thrown into the mix from Spirit Hound. My word of caution to the assembly was to know one’s capacity.

It appeared that everyone in attendance was being careful though. No one falling down. If there was anyone who might have fallen down it would have to be the festival’s organizer, Jackie Rebideau. Jackie had been up most of the night before putting the final touches on the event. She met us a few years ago when she attended one of our Master Series. She has gone on to make quite a cheese career for herself, along with hosting the Colorado Cheese Festival she also hosts a radio program, A Fermented Affair, and she just rolled out her first food truck in Denver, Mobile Meltz.

The festival will be back in Longmont again next year and I look forward to being a part of it again, helping Jackie spread the curd.

- Max McCalman

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

October Fest at Epcot

maxepcot 1 e1381258741746 October Fest at Epcot

Epcot is celebrating its eighteenth annual Food & Wine Festival this year and we are proud to have been a part of this gourmet celebration since 1998. Each year we have presented seminars every weekend, each session highlighting the cheeses and wines of a country: France, Italy, Spain and the United States. A couple of years ago we added a few other themes to the Saturday morning events so that we could include other countries known less for their wines but held in high regard for cheese, such as Switzerland, England, Holland and others. We also wanted to expand the options so that guests would keep coming back for more.

We have long witnessed the growing popularity of cheese and wine in the United States, and more recently, the fast-growing popularity of craft beers. We debated the idea of switching one of the seven Saturday sessions from wine and cheese to beer and cheese. This year we finally made the leap and judging from the way last weekend’s session was received, the craft beer week will be around for quite awhile. And if it was going to be our first beer week, why not make it in October, especially if it’s early October in central Florida, temperatures outside reaching the mid-80’s?

As is often the case, the beers paired very well with all the cheeses. This is usually the case with wines as well but a good beer is almost a “given” when paired with a good cheese.

Why so few mismatches with beer?

There are a couple reasons why beers rarely miss with cheese. Most beers are a little less acid than most wines; this gives beers better pH harmony with cheeses. Cheeses are also a little acid, but not nearly as acid as most wines. Beers also lack the astringency that red wines possess – the tannin factor that can disrupt what might have been a good match with a cheese. Beers also have their effervescence that refreshes the palate when cheese is in the mix. Those bubbles lift up the butterfats, swirl them around, and the gentle acidity breaks them down delightfully.

All this is not to discount the “size” consideration, as in the overall flavor profile of a cheese or beer. The lighter flavored cheeses paired better with the lighter beer, while the bigger flavored cheeses paired better with the bigger beer.

Like the CheeseClock™ indicates, the bigger the cheese, the bigger the beer should be.

- Max McCalman

Monday, September 16th, 2013

A Chef’s Cheese

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Kirkham’s Lancashire is a cheese I have known and loved for many years. I recall sharing it with my friend David Pasternak back in the day. In case you do not know David, he is one of the owners and the Executive Chef of Esca restaurant here in New York. He would come into my cheese “office” daily when we worked together at Picholine and ask what I would recommend. I had already fallen in love with Kirkham’s by then so I wanted to see if he felt the same. It was (as it usually is) in fine form, so David would ask for it frequently, from that day on rarely bothering to ask what I would recommend.

A big part of my job there was to make wine recommendations for cheeses, and vice versa. The Lancashire showed very well with many wine types, both reds and whites. As Pinot Noir was (and still is) a favorite wine, an expression of which many parties would be enjoying when the cheese trolley pulled up, it was pleasing to see how well this varietal paired with this cheese. And so it went with many other reds: Syrah, Barbera, Tempranillo, Gamay, Amarone, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Primitivo, even the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon. And of course the white wines paired well too: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Albariño, Sémillon, the occasional Chardonnay, and Champagne. My British friends would say “Give me a pint of ale.”

So what gives this great British traditional such synergy with all these wines and ales?

It mostly comes down to balance. This is a quality Kirkham’s Lancashire possesses. By this I mean that it is not too salty, yet salty enough; not too sour, but acid enough; with a scant trace of bitterness; sweet fresh milk flavor; as well as a pleasing buttery mouthfeel. Pour a little astringent red wine on top and the cheese is able to soften the edges, or a little white wine and the fruit in the wine springs forth.

You have to take care of your Lancashire however. Make sure it is not left out for hours on end; it can dry out, which takes away from the lovely texture. And when you rewrap it, it helps to give your leftover Lancashire its own little microcosm. It is a raw milk cheese so when the pairings succeed they can be brilliant, though when they miss, they can miss badly. It is best to try this “chef’s cheese” alone first, the way David Pasternak always did. Get to know it on its own terms. A keen palate will recognize this cheese as one of the culinary world’s greatest masterpieces.

- Max McCalman

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

German Beer Day

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Did you forget that yesterday was German Beer Day? You may have thought the beer celebrations only take place in October. Not according to our German beer expert Freddy Bohn. According to Freddy there is a reason to celebrate the superior beers of Germany every single day of the year, though there is this one day in particular – April 23rd – that is marked on the calendar recognizing this near-perfect beverage, especially by German brewers. It was this day, exactly 497 years ago, that the Reinheitsgebot was implemented. Perhaps you have already read the beer chapter in my new book, Mastering Cheese, which delves into its history. You can hear Mr. Bohn explain the significance of this law while we enjoy a generous helping of his country’s finest at this Sunday’s German Beer class.

Along with hearing him speak about the Reinheitsgebot while enjoying distinguished Biere, we will also get to understand their superior pairing capacities with great cheeses. Speaking of cheese, did you know that Germany produces more cheese than France? Their output is second only to the United States.

- Max McCalman

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese – Parallel Paths?

Last week I attended the 3rd Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis. The camaraderie and shared experiences continue to be ones that I will treasure and relive through every craft ale or lager I taste. Though I have attended the two previous conferences only as a craft beer advocate, this year I also participated as a passionate employee of Artisanal Cheese.

My tenure with Artisanal thus far has shown me some surprising parallels between craft beer and the local cheese movement here in the United States. While artisan cheesemakers are not fighting for market share as craft brewers do with gargantuan operations like A-B/InBev, the small producers are in battle of finances, awareness and distribution. The labor of love that farmers, dairies and artisans have for their art truly shines in the ever more delicious product cheese-lovers taste everyday just as it does for the craft brewers.

During the past few years, I have witnessed the ongoing evolution and deepening of the relationship between the craft beer industry and the bloggers that support it. By utilizing the audiences and channels of bloggers, the smaller craft breweries are tapping into not only the interests of people already highly involved with the segment, but introducing new people to an alternative to mass-produced and adjunct-filled American lager.

To the same end as the craft beer bloggers, Artisanal is stepping up to become THE central rallying point of the American artisan cheese movement to support the “craft” cheese producers. By working collectively with the entire local cheese industry, we can further boost the awareness, promotion and access to great products.

I love being able to locally taste some of the incredible craft beer from across the US, though I do love travelling to meet my fellow bloggers to enjoy them.  A favorite annual conference event is “The Night of Many Bottles”.  Picture a banquet room with tables lining three walls filled with bins of ice with incredible (and in some cases) very rare craft beer from all over the US. Now imagine yourself sampling these tasty brews with fellow craft beer advocates as well as industry professionals. In addition to being led by fellow “citizen” or non-industry bloggers, I also had the pleasure of tasting beer from representatives of RAM Brewery & Restaurant, Green Flash, Florida Beer Company, Flying Dog and beer guru and author Randy Mosher’s new endeavor, 5 Rabbit Brewery. The discussion of the nose, taste, mouthfeel and the crafting of these beers creates an energy that must be experienced to be believed.

Now think of a similar setup, but with 150 different American artisan cheeses. That scene became Artisanal’s Media Day on June 27th, where we replicated the energy of “The Night of Many Bottles”, though on a much smaller scale. I hope in the future that I will be able to participate in a “Night of Many Cheeses” on a similar perspective, and I anticipate that Artisanal will be at the heart of it. I would love if everyone could do the same with artisan cheese in their personal spaces. Just think of all the pairing parties, gatherings and events that could be enjoyed in the company of friends and family!

As I always say, “Life’s a tap…drink up ‘til it’s dry.”

DAFHeadshot2 300x279 Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese – Parallel Paths?
Daniel Fisher
Customer Service Manager
Artisanal Premium Cheese