I wrote a while ago about the satisfying culinary union of a ripe avocado and a few slices of salty bacon, shoved between a couple of slices of soft wholemeal bread and smeared with spicy brown sauce.
Like cheese? Its usual bedfellows are crackers, grapes and a decent glass of plonk, right?
Well, thanks to good friends Barry & Alex we tried out the slightly off-beat marriage between beer and cheese last Friday, in a cracking collaboration between The Hungry Guest in Petworth and the Arundel Brewery.
(image courtesy of The Hungry Guest website)
(image courtesy of the Arundel Brewery website)
We were served 5 separate combinations of beer and cheese, with some very informative tasting notes on each pairing, and these general characteristics.
- cut – the bitterness of hops and the carbonation in some beers will “cut through” the richer flavours and textures of cheese
- complement – two similarly toned pairings merge together, for example poached chicken with a delicate beer, or chargrilled meat with a similarly robust ale
- contrast – food paired with beer, whose taste notes have an opposing nature – a tart fruit beer with a rich chocolate pudding, for example
So which liaisons worked best?
My own favourite was the Smokehouse Porter (6% ABV) guzzled alongside a complementary Gruyere de Jura. Strong flavours all round – “a wonderfully rich smooth beer with subtle smokey overtones. Our friends at Besmoke (based opposite the brewery) smoked our malt over Sussex Apple Wood using their PureSmoke technology”. The smokiness of the ale definitely worked with the nuttiness of the gruyere. YUM!
Sounds a bit poncey? It could have been, but the whole evening was informative in a quietly understated way. No quaffing and chortling here, just some hard-working people who are clearly passionate about good, local ingredients.
Another successful combo was Big Love and Stichelton Blue Cheese. In this contrasting affair (well, they do say opposites attract) the 5.0% ABV beer, with 40 kg of fresh raspberries in the 1,800 litre brew), conjured up “a slightly tart aftertaste to the fruity ale”, and which offset the creamy full-on flavour of the exceptional blue cheese.
Cheese & wine parties are so 1970s, darling. I’m off to Arundel to shove a load of the brewery’s interesting beers into the boot, and swinging by the temperature-controlled cheese room at The Hungry Guest in Petworth on the way back, to provide a very contemporary and artisanal beer & cheese party.
Now, shall I invite some contrasting friends…or some cutting ones?