By god I have such a lovely wife. Especially when she produces such lovely offerings as this medium rare steak with pate and Madeira sauce to harmoniously match with my Innis & Gunn original oak aged beer.
The thing is I have heard people knock Innis and Gunn as this beer that came out before barrel aging beers became vogue again and brewers, particularly US brewers started knocking out Bourbon barrel aged heavyweight Barley wines and Imperial stouts bold enough to make this beer look as hardcore as a rubber duck dressed as Rambo. But I like this beer, and I like it partly because it's not hardcore. In fact, given its sweetish nature (very little perceivable bitterness)and rounded rich vanilla tones I would probably advise this as a good starting point for anyone willing to explore oak aged beers. It was this richness that really picked up on the sweet Madeira sauce, pate and succulent nature of the steak. Great stuff.
Anyway after this we decided to watch a film while I explored some Durham brewery beers I recently picked up from Rothbury wines in (you guessed) Rothbury.
Out of all the North East breweries I would say Durham are most known for pushing the boundaries. Even their session beers are known to go a little heavy on the hops. But having not tried any Durham beers in a while I decided to use the St Cuthbert as a hearty appetiser and the 9% barley wine Bede's Chalice for the late night cheeseboard. Sadly (and it might just have been a bad bottle) the St Cuthbert fell a bit short of expectations. From a bottle description that hints this as an American style IPA it only met this criteria in colour and abv. Flavour wise it gives you spicy, yeasty fruit over firm biscuity malt with some underlying vegetal notes, resiny hops and something else I could only describe as 'wet dog'. Drinkable, but not very well integrated.
Bede's Chalice on the other hand is a rich orange/amber English style barley wine with great full bodied balanced flavour that easily goes well with a cheeseboard. Not so pronounced with the bitterness but more peachy pear like rich fruity alcoholic notes over a soft malt mouth feel. I know I keep coming back to the cheese thing but I seem to be getting better at pairing beer and cheese after trying so many cheeses recently and taking advice from Randy Moshers book Tasting beer. So stay prepared beer quest followers for another beer and cheese evening later in the year, it's certainly on the cards.