Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cheese and Beer Pairings - Schlafly

As a huge fan of Schlafly beers, I was especially excited about this month’s cheese and beer class at Dierbergs Des Peres. Believe it or not, I actually got try some beers that were new to me: the Bier de Garde and the Lewis Osterweis Ginger beer.

Schlafly lineup
Our welcome beer was the easy-drinking Summer Lager, and is brewed only during a specific season in St. Louis called “baseball season”. Also a good palate cleanser!

The first beer was the Lewis Osterweiss & Sons Hard Ginger beer, following a ginger trend these days. The ginger beer is actually recommended to be used in mixed cocktails although you certainly can drink it on its own. The sharp ginger flavor really helped to cut through the cheese, Reypenaer, a one-year aged gouda. Paring the two together gave off a sweet flavor. Mixed with a pear paste, the combination actually created a maple flavor altogether.

Cheese lineup
Next up was one of my favorites, the very popular Hefeweizen, because it’s so light and refreshing. I learned that Hefe is German for yeast, which is a good name for an unfiltered wheat beer. This was paired with a Wensleydale cheese with cranberries, so it had a butter finish that was slightly chalky, but still a hint of fruit to cut through. These lighter beers pair well with the fruit, although the two together gave a pancake flavor. The best part of this pairing was adding a bite of milk chocolate, which made for a super sweet combination like a rich dessert! Chocolate cream pie!

An ale/lager hybrid, Kolsh, is another beer I enjoy regularly and I learned that not too many breweries make it because the yeast strain must come from Koln, Germany. Luckily, co-founder Tom Schlafly happened to marry a native of Koln and they were able to make the proper connection. This beer was paired with a Karst (meaning cave) cave aged cheese (around 7 months). The toasted rye bread flavor of the beer paired well with the cooked butter and nutty flavor of the aged cheese. The beer did a good job to cut through the creaminess of the cheese and the oil from the addition of salami.

Now the Biere de Garde came in a tall bottle so I automatically assumed it’d be a big beer, but that wasn't the case at all and I found it very easy to drink. This beer is traditionally aged (hence the name) and has secondary fermentation in the bottle resulting in small, tight bubbles. The beer helped to chill out the cheese, which was thick, creamy, and intense. The apricot dried fruit helped to add sweetness to tame down the cheese some more.

At the end, we finally had the big beer, Extra Irish Stout, which was paired with the flavorful Apple Smoked Cheddar. I found this cheddar to be fairly mild in its flavor and I probably would have swapped it with the previous cheese. The stout had a roasted coffee and chocolate flavor and a thick, creamy head. The creaminess of the cheese fit well, but the beer really dominated this pairing. The added Spanish almonds helped to take away some of the smokiness of the cheese for a mild flavor as well, but I really would perfer the bigger beer to help cut through a bigger cheese.

Resources:

Schlafly (St. Louis Brewing Company) = http://schlafly.com/

Dierbergs = http://www.dierbergs.com/