Saturday, 9 January 2010

Beer for the snow.

Getting married, hunting beer in Maui, Christmas then new year. But who's to say the parties over? This weekend everywhere seems covered in snow, like it has been since we got back in the UK last month. So stuck indoors for the weekend was the best excuse for some heavyweight beer and food pairing.

Morocco ale and ginger cake went pretty well, given the rich, cakey gingery nature of the beer. This was followed up by a heavy dose of some of my new Whiskies.

Now I know I'm still quite new to the beer-food pairing game, and I'm sure the likes of Mark Dredge could advise a good pairing or two. But from what I've found so far, one of the simplest and best ways to enjoy epipanic combinations it to take your regular cheese board and pair it with a barley wine or strong Belgian ale. The theory is to use a beer with enough intensity to stand up to the strongest cheese on the board. So from the cellar, brought all the way from California for me as a present, comes this one.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine (early 2009 release) at 11.3% certainly held its weight. A beast of beer packed with bold but smooth malt and masses of citrus hops. Very well integrated and drinkable... In fact too drinkable, so drinkable it drinks more like a beer almost half its abv. This leaves me wondering where all the heavy ester and fusel alcohol fermentation flavors have gone? Fermentation temperature was probably well controlled, and lagering may have been used? But it defiantly did a good job of pairing with the board, especially one particular with a soft,creamy Scottish blue.

Sadly I wont be able to use this beer in my official Brew-I beer and cheese evening in a few months time as it is unavailable in the UK. I will be hunting out some US style pale or India pale ales to pair with soft creamy blues. I also discovered once the versatility of Gueze with cheese, like a theme park of powerful acidity and carbonation slicing through fat. Should give me something to think about in the coming months. I'm also thinking of brewing my own light mild for the occasion, having something to cleanse the palate between tastings is a good idea.


Mark said...

I'm sure I've seen Old Guardian in Utobeer... You might be able to grab some of it.

Cheese and beer are great partners. Even the pairings which don't quite work perfectly seem to have a natural affinity. Barley wine is great universally.

IPA is good with mature cheddar, sours with creamy goats' cheese, strong barley wine and Belgian quads with blue cheese, smoked beer with smoked cheese... there are so many possibilities!

Rob said...

Good suggestions. I have a few of those ideas lined up already I just need to get the specific beer and cheeses prepared. Last year I discovered Really mature Cheddar is great with Meantime IPA. Something big on the C hops, like a US style IPA, seems to work well with the soft creamy blues. Which one is part of the dilemma. Another interesting one I shall be trying, mostly from instinct alone, is Sam Smiths Yorkshire Stingo with Wendsleydale and cranberries.

Anonymous said...

No pains, no gains..........................