Barrel Aged Beer & Cheese Pairing with The Grumpy Goat

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Photo by Steve Rimington

Back in February 2017 we hosted our first Beer & Cheese food pairing at the barrel store, here in Finchampstead. We teamed up with The Grumpy Goat, an excellent independent beer and cheese shop based in Reading, to develop some interesting combinations.

This weekend, The Grumpy Goat’s craft beer, food and music festival, “Craft Theory” returns to Reading. We wanted to mark the occasion by sharing some of the great beer and cheese pairings we created, and how we approached them so that you can create similar combinations at home. Bear in mind that food pairing is a personal experience; we all enjoy different things. Give these pairings a go, but if they’re not for you then don’t be afraid to let go and discover your own great match ups.

If you missed out first time around then look out for more Tap Yard events like this throughout the year.


First Pairing

Beer: Summer Encore (11.2% Gin Barrel Aged DIPA)
Cheese: Pennard Ridge (Somerset Goats Cheese) 
This big DIPA has aged in Gin Barrels, giving it some unmistakeable botanical notes that are very common in Gin. It has a full flavour profile that carries a crazy amount of Peach and Apricot, which mellows down to a very sweet, fruity, floral and slightly oaky DIPA.
With a distinctive and floral flavour profile, the chosen cheese needed to be one that could balance well on flavour, and provide compliment to the sweetness. With that in mind, we chose Pennard Ridge.
Pennard Ridge is a Somerset Cheese, which is pale cream in colour with a slightly chalky texture without being dry. Fresh clean fruity notes with a lovely nutty ending develop as the goats cheese matures. 
Together they unleashed some really interesting floral flavours that lingered in the mouth. The perception of both on your palate is harmonious and balanced leaving both the cheese and beer playing a major role in this pairing. The chalky texture of the cheese successfully cuts through the carbonation and mellows the beer’s sweetness, allowing those botanical notes to shine out. A pairing that truly leaves you craving for another bite and a sip.  

Unless you can find some in a local bottle shop, sadly we’re all out of Summer Encore. As a replacement, we recommend the Dios De La Guerra, a Bière de Mars, which comes packed with floral notes.


Second Pairing

Beer: Old Fashioned (11% Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine)
Cheese: 
Pecorino Riserva

The idea behind this beer came from our passion for the classic ‘old-fashioned’, a 19th Century cocktail traditionally made by muddling sugar with bitters and then adding whiskey with a twist of citrus.
For the beer, we used the Barley Wine as the base after ageing it in barrels for 12 months. This helped it pick up a well-rounded bourbon profile, with some vanilla and caramel sweetness, leaving the hops to bring all those beautifully citrus orange zesty notes.
With a sweet and ‘grown up’ flavoured beer, we knew we needed a big mature cheese that would add sharpness to the overall mouth feel. Pecorino Riserva fit the bill perfectly.
 
Pecorino Riserva – Ill Fiorino, Riserva del Fondatore, Tuscany. The most lauded and prized of all the cheeses of Ill Fiorino, this cheese is made with the high-quality milk of the Maremma ewes that graze the lush Tuscan hills. It’s matured in the family’s finest caves, which are reserved for only the best cheeses. After at least one year, Pecorino Riserva has an intense, sweet and fruity flavour with a fabulous crystalline, fudge like texture. 
The resonance was perfect on this one; sweet plus sweet with a great flakey mouthfeel taking the beer and cheese to the next level. A refreshing coconut character grows while transforming into a very decadent experience with numerous layers of pleasant bitter zesty notes hidden previously by the intense sweetness. 

Third Pairing

Beer: Odyssey 008 (8.5% Wood Aged Dark Sour Blend)
Cheese: Schlossberger 
Each year, our Odyssey range takes us on a journey through barrels, blends and flavours. They are uniquely created, usually inspired by a concept that we want to bring to life, or a natural fit for barrels with intense and specific characters, that we pick out as being particularly suited to a blend.
008 represents our passion for Belgian sour styles like Flanders Red and Oud Brune. The resulting beer has a gorgeous oak character with prominent red wine tannin influence, bramble berries and a fruity acidity on the palate. Of course, there’s complexity too, and we pick up a floral character, almonds, umami and a delicate funkiness from the BrettanomycesAfter blending the beer is returned to barrels for another 3 months (red wine plus some bourbon barrels which previously housed Acid Jam). A small addition of seasonal British fruit was added to some of the barrels ( cherries and blackcurrants). 
To balance the intensely deep flavours of 008, we wanted to find a tangy and fruity cheese. Enter Schlossberger.
Schlossberger – Glausers in Steine, Switzerland. This is a fruity and yet delicate Swiss mountain cheese with lovely little crystals and a lasting complexity. This beer and cheese are truly made for each other, sending the taster on a fruitful rollercoaster followed by a complex woody linger. As you chew, the beer mellows the cheese’s acidity, which enhances the clean tannin experience creating an overall nutty mouthfeel at the end. 

Fourth Pairing

Beer: Barrel Aged Shattered Dream (9.1% Imperial Breakfast Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels)
Cheese: 
Barkham Blue 

This imperial version of our flagship beer, Broken Dream, takes our Siren to the next level. Packed full of coffee, vanilla and cacao this big stout does not do flavours in half measures. The bourbon barrels add vanilla and oaky notes and create a warm, decadent and intense velvety experience. The bigger and badder sister that takes you to places that Broken Dream wouldn’t dare.   
These big, bold, no holds-barred flavours needed a cheese to step up to the plate and hold its own. If Barrel Aged Shattered Dream is fighting out of the red corner, then Barkham Blue is fighting out of the blue.
Barkham Blue – Two Hoots Cheese, Barkham. Made by local cheese heroes, Barkham Blue is a delightfully creamy and rich blue, which has complexity yet remains delicate on the palate. As it develops in the mouth, an almost salty finish comes through which truly makes it a thing of beauty. 
In the words of our Brand Ambassador, Ruben: “This was the grand finale and my favourite pairing of the day. The creamy character of both drops down and improves into a very textured oaky and leathered mouthfeel.” With this pairing, you’ll really find that the smokiness steps up to blend with the vanilla and tobacco notes, creating a decadent and indulgent experience that ends with a salty dark chocolate aftertaste.  

Photo by Steve Rimington

What’s next?

We all agreed that the event was a roaring success. I mean, when could eating Beer & Cheese not be a good thing, right? With that in mind, we decided to make it a semi-regular event! The beer theme for the next event will be IPAs. 
Keep an eye open on our Events page for updates! 
Until then, pop into your local bottle shopvisit our Tap Yard or order your Siren beers online. If you’re near Reading Station, visit The Grumpy Goat to buy the beers and the cheese in one hit!
Enjoy tasting and experimenting and send us your best beer and cheese pairings via twitter! If you enjoy cheese and Yu Lu, then reply to this post for a chance to win a Yu Lu goody bundle and tickets to Fes-Tea-Val!

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