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Posts Filed Under The ‘Brewing Some Fun’ Category

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Pilsner Picks Cow

Originally Posted at BrewingSomeFun.com

We may consider Pilsners to be on the light side of the beer spectrum but this does not mean they should be taken lightly. When it comes to pairing them with cheeses the Pilsners can hold their own with some of the big guns, stinky cheeses included.

cow 1 Pilsner Picks Cow

The water used to produce the best Pilsners is softened; this helps give them clarity and it allows the hop aromas and flavors to come forth. These distinct aromas and flavors is what give Pilsners their heft, while the alcohol contents of most of them remain moderate. This hop-forwardness of Pilsners can present pairing challenges to some of the milder goat cheeses, whereas other less flavorful lagers can meld pretty well with that family of cheese types.

Not to over-analyze it but we want to mindful of the potential for mismatches, particularly when they occur with goat cheeses. The goat cheeses can clash with some beverage partners, while on the other hand, the good goat cheese matches can be sublime. When the clashes do occur we just want to make sure that we don’t blame the goat! Goat cheeses have been much-maligned long enough. As I have noted over the years, the first no-no I get from people contemplating a selection of cheeses is the avoidance of goat.

The second no-no we hear when people select their cheeses is to skip the blues; almost as many people shy away from the blue cheeses as those that skip the goats. On the blue (strong) end of the cheese spectrum is where the Pilsners may also falter. For most cheese categories in between these two bookend cheese types, the milder goats and the big bad blues, Pilsners perform admirably. To savor the finer qualities in a Pilsner you may want to skip over the blues.

If we skip the mild young goat cheeses and the blues (but do not entirely write either of them off) we can find a broad grouping of cheeses that are Pilsner friendly: most cows, some sheep cheeses (which tend to be versatile with more beverages anyway) and some mixed milk cheeses. The pressed sheep milk cheeses such as the Bianco Sardo, Ossau Iraty, or Stella Royale have their own full aromas that can balance the aromas in the Pilsners.

The wash-rind cow cheeses pair especially well with the Pilsners, younger to older. The meaty aromas in the cheeses provide the balance to the beers. This should be no surprise since these cheese types have long been produced in the regions where the Pilsners first flourished:Czechoslovakia and Germany. When you are enjoying some of these stalwart cheese types, you may look for something refreshing in your beverage as a counterpoint, like a Pilsner. Of the more aged ones, try the Andeerer Schmuggler, the Appenzeller, the Hittisau, the Prattigauer, and the Uplands Pleasant Ridge. For the younger, stinkier cow cheeses, try the Abbaye de Tamié or the Edwin’s Munster.

There are a couple of other cow cheese categories that fit the bill: the cheddar types and the cooked curd or Gouda types. The success with the Pilsners can be attributed to the “sharpness” in those cheeses: the acid, the salt, as well as the texture. When you have all these pronounced qualities in cheeses a chilled Pilsner can be just the ticket. The Gouda, 4 y.o.; the Roomano; the Terraluna or the Quicke’s Cheddar; any of these leave a happy ending in the mouth and tummy.

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Pairing Cheeses with a German Pilsner

Originally posted at Brewingsomefun.com

edwin Pairing Cheeses with a German Pilsner

I trust that you know that cheese is a near-complete food, a delicious food that offers a full range of nutrients, pretty much everything except for vitamin C and fiber. This is one reason why cheese pairs so well with fruits. It is more than the aesthetics, it is a valuable nutritional consideration as well. Cheese has a way of satisfying us before we have consumed enough calories. This is one of several ways that cheese can help you lose weight – that you can reach satiety before you have sufficient calories. You can pick up a few extra calories from the fruit, but for those of us who prefer to have our fruit in the morning, what is our other calorie choice for the rest of the day?

This is where the beer comes in. It is the aesthetic partner, and one that provides some of those make-up calories. Beers have their fruity flavors, some have more than others. These flavors can be hidden when a beer is high in the IBU’s (international bittering units) but the “fruit” is still present, or it should be. These flavors help give cheese and beer that potential for matching aesthetically.

We tasted a pilsner with a range of cheeses recently. No two pilsners are the same, of course. This one was a little heavier than most; it was more of a German style of Pilsner. The hops were more dominant so you might consider this a medium-flavored beer. The first cheese in the mix that stood out with this beer was a perfectly ripened Coulommiers. The buttery paste wrapped around the pilsner, hops included, and dissolved into a lip-smacking delicious finish. Sometimes these bloomy rind cheeses (bries, camemberts, double-crèmes and triple-crèmes) can leave a little metallic edge so I was not sure how this would play out, though I do recall finding some nice matches between IPA’s and other bloomy rind cheeses. The bitter is a distinguishing feature in beers; it provides a sort of “backbone” for beers. Yet that bitter can also dominate lighter flavored foods, lighter cheeses included.

Speaking of buttery, the Bianco Sardo is so buttery; some would say that it is more “greasy” than buttery. This may not sound like a flattering description, that is until you take into account that the “greasy” includes some delicious butterfats, butterfats that also happen to be very good for you, inside and out. This toothsome oily cheese melded in full well with the beer. With just the right amount of salt, it dissolved into the pilsner gracefully and left a little meaty note.

Next up was Edwin’s Munster – a cheese type (wash rind stinker) that is often paired with lagers and pilsners. Even with the extra hops, this pairing was delightful. It is a wonderful cheese on its own, so it would be surprising if it did not meld well with any beer. Made with unpasteurized delicious milk, with just a little salt, and a good amount of umami; this is a most satisfying cheese: tangy, creamy, warm and savory. The pilsner broke up the paste of this cheese into a stringy texture which reminded me of a perfect fondue.

The Cheddar, aged two-years, was a no-brainer; always is. Any style of beer seems to favor good cheddar. The acid and the semi-hard texture of cheddar give this pairing a nod – the “ploughman’s lunch.”

The Andeerer Schmuggler; it even sounds like a beer cheese. A German fan of this cheese would drive into Switzerland and “schmuggle” several wheels back with him, quite probably to enjoy alongside his bier. Even though our pilsner was hoppier than many German styles of beers, the pairing made me happier. It is a pretty good rule of thumb: cheeses with the b. linens surface bacteria work well with beers.

Then we come to the magnificent Beeler Gruyère (that also has some if those b. linens on the surface). The crystalline texture, the depth of flavor; this is a rather profound cheese. One might think that it would overwhelm a pilsner. This bold cheese can turn meek wines into water, so to speak. Yet when you think about the smorgasbord of flavors this cheese offers: nutty, meaty, chocolate, fruity, with a dash of salt; it sounds like a good partner for a pilsner. And indeed it was.

That was the range of pairing successes I found for this pilsner in this setting. It fell flat with the blue. From a previous tasting, I found this same pilsner to be an excellent match for Robiola Rocchetta.

Except for the blues, you can get a fairly broad range of cheeses to pair with your German style of a pilsner.

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Flösserkäse, A Cheese Washed In Hops

Originally posted at Brewingsomefun.com

The Swiss have been tinkering with cheese recipes for centuries. They have elevated milk to alpine heights with their creative endeavors. Their talent for producing outstanding cheese can be largely credited to the availability of pristine waters for the animals and for the cheese making steps, to the diversity of plant species provided by respectful land management, to the careful animal husbandry, and to the state-of-the-art cheese making and ripening methods.

Along with all of these considerations they also like to put their own signatures in recipes: either by adding special blends of herbs and spices to the cheese baths, or infusing those blends directly into the curd; or by using different wines, beers, or other spirits in the bathing solutions. One might think that all the extras might diminish the flavors of the milk itself, yet cheese making always involves at least one other ingredient. The added ingredients should then be permitted for use if the end product becomes a delicious cheese that is unique.

cheesee Flösserkäse, A Cheese Washed In Hops

I recall my impression when I tasted the magnificent Flösserkäse the first time. I liked the name too. It sounded like it might be a good cheese for your teeth. Then again, cheese is good for you teeth anyway. Like if you were rushing out the door this morning and you did not have time to floss you could make up for it later in the day by having some Flösserkäse?

Then when I found out that it was washed in hops I understood its flavor a little better. Hops are usually associated with the bitter notes they give to ales. In the case of Flösserkäse it is not so much a bitter note that I detect but it is more of a grassy, spicy, piney and earthy flavor that comes through, flavors that are often associated with hops. The milk flavor certainly comes through but the influence of the hops is there.

Keep in mind that most cheeses do pair well with most beers, or in more cases than not they do marry well together. The Flösserkäse is a standout. Whether it is the influence of the hops or just the fact that this is a phenomenal cheese to begin with, and it is good for your teeth.

Max McCalman

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Pairing Wheat Beers and Cheese

Originally posted at Brewingsomefun.com

10454 Pairing Wheat Beers and Cheese

If wheat beer is not your cup of tea (or not your pint of beer) you might consider trying one with a wide selection of cheeses. I admit that it was not my favorite style of beer either, that is until I had one recently with an array of cheeses. The wheat beer played nice with every cheese on my plate: the Hoja Santa, the Roomano, and the Stilton, and especially well with the Nettle Meadow Kunik, the Terraluna, the Abbaye de Tamié (referenced below) and the Scharfe Maxx.

I recently wrote about a cheese that “screams” beer, that lovely Abbaye de Tamié, a cheese that paired well with each and every kind of beer that I had before me. I would not say that the Abbaye de Tamié is an extreme cheese whatsoever, though it does have quite a lot of character. This cheese may not be for everyone on its own. The same applies for the wheat beers: maybe not for everyone but it is a beer that screams “cheese.”

This is one of the greatest things about pairing beers with cheeses: a cheese that you might not normally choose might actually taste great with the right beer partner, or vice versa. Along with delivering some delightful mixes these pairings can open up new appreciations for second-choice (not second class) cheeses or beers, ones that you would typically avoid.

Part of the key to successful pairings of cheese with the wheat beers is that those beers tend to be especially effervescent, always a plus for cheese partners. The underlying silky textures of wheat beers make smooth platforms for toothsome cheeses.

The wheat beers also tend to be lighter flavored; they can meld into cheeses a little more gracefully. These beers are less bitter than almost all ales. The bitter may be an attractive flavor quality for some beer lovers but it can also present special challenges to cheese partners.

Try a wheat beer wit your next cheese plate, and skip the lemon peel.

Max McCalman

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

10900 Breakfast of ChampionsOriginally posted at Brewing Some Fun

We have the marvelous Abbaye de Tamié in our caves now. This lightly pressed cow milk cheese is produced at the eponymous abbey in the French Alps. The abbey has helped sustain itself with the production of this marvelous cheese since its founding in the year 1132. The cheese has been produced pretty much the same away all along, thankfully.

If there ever was a cheese that screamed “beer” this is the one. Part of its success in pairing with all kinds of beers is its balanced flavor. It does not rely on the salt to make it work. Another part of the success of the pairing of beers with this cheese is that the soft texture of the cheese likes the beer’s bubbles. This cheese can be a little challenging for most wines, even though it is not a strong cheese. I have tasted the Abbaye de Tamié with several different styles of beers and it invariably works.

The cheese is produced with unpasteurized milk,which happens to give it an extended shelf life, as well as a full aroma and flavor. A generous dose of umami rounds out its flavor profile while the aroma takes you to one of the most beautiful places on earth – the Alps. You could easily consider having this cheese on its own. It has an eggy flavor; it reminds me of scrambled eggs, with a touch of salt and no pepper, cooked in butter.

Speaking of eggs, the Abbaye de Tamié has about twice the amount of protein in weight as an egg, and less fat, even before the egg is cooked in oil or butter!

If you would rather not be reminded of eggs then try this amazing cheese with the breakfast of champions – beer. You will get a great start to your day. A piece of fruit on the side is optional; the beer should deliver enough fruit flavor on its own. Some fresh crusty baguette will suffice. Along with the umami, the Abbaye de Tamié (being a youngish unpasteurized cheese produced from milk of animals who have a wide diversity of plant species in their diets) also delivers a lot of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) that beneficial weight-reducing and cancer-fighting fatty acid.

We don’t have the Abbaye de Tamié available all the time; the production is limited. It is here now though, and those that come in should be in great form through to the end of the year. So get them while you can.

Max McCalman