Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Schlafly Beer and Cheese Pairing

Since last night's beer and cheese tasting at the Wine and Cheese place was cancelled due to a power outage, I was totally psyched up for tonight's Schlafly Beer and Cheese Pairing, which they host once a year. This year's class was held during STL Craft Beer Week!

This class was hosted down at the Tap Room, which will hopefully be easier to get to once they reopen 40!

Anyway, it was a very eclectic crowd and I was trying to guess if folks were there because they were beer fans...cheese fans...or both. I sat at the "young people" table and I guessed beer...I was right. hehe Luckily, some "both" fans sat down on the other side of me so we could "ooooh" and "aaaah" over the cheeses together. But, I do admit that I appreciated my tablemates' knowledge about the beer.

My first thought was "Awww...look at the cute mini-beer glasses!" So I was schooled that the glasses were from an annual beer festival that Schlafly hosted. Each glass came from a different year and was in a different style. The beer folks then actually tried to match up the beers with each glass. I really wanted to take the beer glasses home so bad. I really need to start bringing a camera to these classes for this very reason.

Of course I noticed the cheeses! Don't be silly! My favorite cheesemonger, Adam from the Wine Merchant, made sure we each got HUGE pieces of cheese so I was QUITE pleased. (Especially since this ended up being my dinner!)

Overall, ALL the cheeses had a strong flavor and were able to stand up on their own. No wussy cheeses tonight! I do think that was on purpose because we were dealing with beer. The only beer that was super light (and my favorite) was the Hefeweizen. The cheese that was matched with it, Tumbleweed, was way too overpowering. Sometimes opposites work in pairings but my poor light Hefe just couldn't keep up.

In reverse, the Oatmeal Stout was way overpowering over the Dry Jack. It probably went better with the APA. The APA actually was matched with the Humboldt Fog (a crowd favorite) and those went pretty well together because they both calmed each other down...took the edge off.

The worst cheese and the best cheese were put together with the Biere de Garde (which comes in a bottle no less!) and both were pungent cheeses in their own way. The worst cheese was the Menuet which was totally barnyard tasting to me. Hopefully you catch my drift when I say "barnyard". The best cheese was the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. A sharp aged cheddar...YUM! That beat all the other cheeses by far.

At the end of the class...I looked around and could once again tell who the beer lovers were versus the cheese lovers. I saw A LOT more plates full of cheese (ACK!) and mostly empty beer glasses. I'm sure you can guess that I finished my plate of cheese completely while leaving 3 of the 6 beers. I just can't do those heavy beers. I'm sure people were sneering at me for being such a beer wuss too.

Here are the pairings as provided by the class but we were encouraged to mix, match, and then discuss some more! Lots of good descriptions and teaching from the brewer as well as from Adam about the cheese.
  1. Dortmunder with Carmody (Bellwether Farms, CA)
  2. Hefeweizen with Tumbleweed (5 Spoke Creamery, NY)
  3. Pale Ale with Osage Orange (Goatsbeard Farm, MO)
  4. Oatmeal Stout with Dry Jack (Vella Cheese Co, CA)
  5. AP with Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove Dairy, CA)
Special thanks goes out to my Personal Beer Instructor (PBI)...I knew right away Hefeweizen was perfect for me.

Best of luck to Adam since he is off to work for Cowgirl Creamery in Cali next month. I am immensely jealous. St. Louis will miss him for sure!

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