Thursday, August 11, 2011

Schlafly Beer and Cheese Pairing 2011

For my second year in a row, I attended the Schlafly Beer and Cheese Pairing at the Tap Room (http://www.schlafly.com/breweries/taproom) during Craft Beer Week. Three of the beers were from Schlafly while the other three came from Urban Chestnut, (http://urbanchestnut.com) located right around the corner on Washington Avenue.

This class was done a little bit differently since the beers and cheeses were introduced first so that we could taste on our own, as well as mix and match a little bit. While I enjoy the freedom to mix up the pairings, I definitely require more cheese for that to happen!! Luckily, we all planned on getting dinner after the class.

While I just assumed we would start with the lightest beer and move on to the darker ones, I was surprised right out of the gate with a Schlafly Kolsch that had a very bitter flavor. This totally overpowered the Seahive Cheddar (Utah) that had no sharpness to it (as I prefer my cheddars to be)!

Luckily, the next pairing saved me since I really enjoyed the Urban Chestnut Zwickel that was light and refreshing. It had a mild flavor and paired equally to the Cambzola Blue (Germany). I think this is the first time ever that a blue did not have that “stinky cheese” flavor. It definitely opened my eyes to the range of blues!

The popular choice at my table was the Urban Chestnut Schnickelfritz, which had a strong fruity finish. It was a little overpowering for me, (and I normally like fruity beers) but was probably the best suited to be paired with the Pantaleo (Italy) cheese that was so dry, I felt like I had to scrape it off the roof of my mouth like peanut butter! ACK!

Going back to a Schlafly beer, I thought the Biere de Garde had a lot of flavor and paired well with the Marieke Foenegreek Gouda (Wisconsin). Both had a strong finish and this was definitely my favorite pairing of the night.

The Urban Chestnut Kinsale had a full bodied coffee flavor and was paired with a Walnut Gourmandise (France). These paired well in the sense that I didn’t like either one of these. The nutty flavor of the cheese was too much for me and I’m not a coffee drinker.

At least the best cheese overall came last with an Old Chatham Camembert (New York), which was pungent and gamey, but so smooth and creamy like a triple crème. A strong Schafly American IPA was paired with it, which makes sense, but I’m just not a fan of them.

The funniest part of the whole class was at the very end when we all shouted our favorite beers and cheeses. Usually one or two stand out in a class but the votes were ALL over the place! I guess it’s a good thing there are so many beers in St. Louis and plenty of cheese to go around as well.