Brewtopia Events LLC

Beer & Cheese
To Benefit "Georgians
for World Class Beer"
June 1, 2003

Here's a group from Atlanta who made the trip to enjoy the
pairings of beer and cheese.
Photos by Owen Ogletree

Owen Ogletree (director of Athens' Classic City Brew Fest) hosted a beer and cheese tasting on Sunday, June 1, 2003 upstairs at Wild Wing Cafe in downtown Athens, GA.  Proceeds from this event when to fund the efforts of Georgians for World Class Beer (a grass-roots group of beer lovers who are attempting to update Georgia's outdated definition of beer to include more gourmet products). Big thanks go to Merchant Du Vin, Thunderhead Distribution (Atlanta), EarthFare, Wild Wing, and Five Points Bottle Shop (Athens) for their help with this event.

Beer style descriptions listed below are from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style guidelines and the cheese information is courtesy of  All these amazing cheeses are available for purchase at EarthFare supermarkets. For more information from Owen on beer and cheese, please be sure to visit his beer and cheese idea page.  Drop Owen an email to share your comments and opinions.

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I used this title because I was a skeptic about pairing beer and cheese until our recent session in Athens at Wild Wing.
There were almost 30 people who donated $25 each to Georgians for World Class Beer to be in attendance.  We also have to give a big shout-out to Normal Brew and The Yeasty Boys in Athens for an additional $100 donation to our cause.
Over a couple of hours, we tried a total of nine beer and cheese pairings, many of which we're jaw-droppingly good. The favorite (by plurality) was the 2001 Fuller's Vintage Ale and English stilton, which just put so many different and well-paired flavors in the mouth it was shocking.  Personally, my other favorites were the Chimay Grand Reserve with Chimay cheese, 2001 Dogwood Winter Ale with parmeggiano reggiano, and the Sam Smith's Imperial Stout with gooey brie.  It's worth noting that, out of the group, I think only one pair didn't get any votes as a favorite. In other words, all of these beers and cheeses went well together.
Now that I'm convinced, we are going to do one (or several) of these in Atlanta. Thanks again to Owen Ogletree for being our host and to all who participated.

Ted Hull, Georgians for World Class Beer.

Beer and Cheese

Diligent Servers
Dean, Jeff and Thel did a great job serving the
beer and cheese to the crowd.

Ayinger Brewery – Aying, Germany
Dortmunder Export Lager

Aroma: Low to medium German or Czech hop aroma.  Malt aroma is moderate.
Appearance: Light gold to medium gold, clear with a noticeable white head.
Flavor: Neither malt nor hops are distinctive, but both are in good balance with a touch of sweetness, providing a smooth yet crisply refreshing beer. Balance continues through the finish and the hop bitterness lingers in aftertaste.  Clean, no fruitiness or esters.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: Balance is the hallmark of this style.
Comments:  Brewed to a slightly higher starting gravity than other light lagers, providing a firm, malty body and underlying maltiness to complement the sulfate-accentuated hop bitterness.

White Cheddar
Fully cured Cheddar is a hard, natural cheese. It is shaped like a drum, 15 inches in diameter, with natural rind bound in cloth. Normally, the color of Cheddar ranges from white to pale yellow. Some Cheddars, however, have a color added, giving the cheese a yellow-orange color. Cheddar is always made from cow's milk and has a slightly crumbly texture if properly cured. If the cheese is too young, the texture is smooth. Cheddar gets a sharper taste the longer it matures. It is generally matured between 9 and 24 months. Milk is heated to 86 degrees F and inoculated with a lactic starter culture. After an hour rennet is added. When the curd is firm, it is ground down to marble-sized bits which are heated to 100 degrees F. The whey is discarded and it is sliced into slabs. The curd is pressed overnight and stands for 4 days in a cool atmosphere. Unlike other well-known cheeses, Cheddar's name is not protected so it has been used and abused by many producers around the world. Country: England / Milk: cow milk / Texture: semi-hard

Belgian Blonde Ale

Aroma: Fruity esters are common, and the malt character is light. Some clove-spice character may be present, from either warm fermentation or actual spice additions.  A spicy hop aroma is sometimes found.  No diacetyl (butterscotch notes). 
Appearance: Pale yellow to golden in color.  Good clarity. Long-lasting foam stand resulting in characteristic Belgian lace on the glass. 
Flavor: Full of fruity, hoppy, alcoholic complexity, supported by a soft malt character.  A slight presence of spices, from either warm ferment or actual spice additions, may be present as a point of complexity.  Hop bitterness is typically restrained.  Substantial carbonation may lend a dry flavor to the palate despite a sweet aftertaste.  No diacetyl. 
Mouthfeel: Medium body gives a light impression despite the often substantial original gravity and alcohol content. Usually effervescent, yet with a smooth finish. 
Overall Impression: A very pale, effervescent, complex ale.

Smoked Gouda
Smoked slowly in ancient, brick ovens over smoldering hickory chip embers, this sausage shaped cheese is perfect for impromptu picnics party platters or midnight snacks. Sensational with beer, this hard cheese has an edible, brown rind and a creamy, yellow interior. Country: Holland / Texture: hard

Dogwood Winter Beer 2001
Dogwood Brewery – Atlanta, GA

Aroma: Complex aroma of malt and fruity esters, which may have a “citrus-like” essence, and often a mild to moderate clove-spice character.  Hop aroma may be moderate to none.  No diacetyl. 
Appearance: Pale gold to deep gold in color.  Clarity should be fair to good.  Head retention may be quite good, or may be adversely affected by alcohol content in some versions. 
Flavor: Crisp and moderately fruity.  Malty sweetness is balanced by restrained hop bitterness and high carbonation to provide a dry finish to the palate and a sweet aftertaste.  Clove-like spiciness is apparent in many examples.  The best examples have subtle alcohol undertones, while others may have very noticeable alcohol presence.  Hop flavor may be moderate to none.  No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, although a light impression (thanks to the candi sugar) given the often substantial original gravity.  High alcohol content adds a warming sensation. Carbonation is very high and effervescent in character, yet ideally does not disturb the beer's smoothness.
Overall Impression: A pale, moderately fruity, spicy, very strong ale. 

Parmigiano Reggiano
Pamigiano-Reggiano is a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from cow's, skimmed milk. It has a shape of a drum with sticky, hard, yellow to orange rind. Parmigiano Reggiano weighs 75 lbs. and must be cut by a saw. The aroma is sweet and fruity, the color fresh yellow and the taste - fruity, like pineapple. Parmigiano Reggiano's flavor is unmistakably piquant, salty, and sharp. Primarily, a grating cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano is a great topping for soups, pasta dishes, veal chicken or salads. In Italy, this cheese is sold in large, grainy chunks, chiseled from the shiny drum that carries its name emblazoned on the rind. Country: Italy / Texture: hard.

Traquair House
Traquair Brewery – Scotland, UK
Strong Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy)

Aroma: Deeply malty, with caramel apparent. Roasty or even smoky secondary aromas may also be present, adding complexity. Moderate diacetyl character is also acceptable.
Appearance: Dark amber to dark brown color, often with ruby highlights.
Flavor: Intensely malty with kettle caramelization apparent. Hint of roasted malt or smoky flavor may be present, as may some buttery diacetyl or nutty character.  Hop flavors are low, so malt impression should be dominant.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, with a thick, chewy viscosity. Alcoholic warmth should also be present.
Overall Impression: Rich and malty, reminiscent of a dessert. Complex secondary malt flavors prevent a one-dimensional impression.

Traditional, creamery, unpasteurized, natural-rind cheese made from a mixture of cow's, sheep's and goat's milk. It is a small rind cheese, sold wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with raffia. This cheese takes its name from the market-town of Banon. The chestnut leaves keep the young, slightly acidic cheese moist and impart a fresh vegetable flavor with a hint of wine. As the cheese ages, blue and gray moulds and yeast are produced on and under the leaves, which contribute to the taste. Banon cheeses range from firm, mild and lactic to soft, creamy and tart, with a nutty flavor.  Country: France / Milk: cow, ewe and goat milk / Texture: soft.

Ayinger Brewery – Aying, Germany
Doppelbock (Double Bock)

Aroma: Intense maltiness.  Virtually no hop aroma.  While diacetyl or esters should be low to none, a fruity aspect to the aroma often described as prune, plum or grape may be present due to reactions between malt, the boil, and aging.  A very slight roasty aroma may be present in darker versions. 
Appearance: Gold to dark brown in color.  Lagering (cold storage conditioning) should provide good clarity.  Head retention may be impaired by higher-than-average alcohol content. 
Flavor: Very rich and malty, infrequently a touch of roastiness. Invariably there will be an impression of alcoholic strength, but this should be smooth and warming rather than harsh or burning.  Presence of higher alcohols (fusel oils) should be very low to none.  Little to no hop flavor.  Hop bitterness varies from moderate to low but always allows malt to dominate the flavor. 
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied.  Low carbonation.  Overall Impression: A very strong, rich, lager

Gruyere is named after a Swiss village. It is traditional, creamery, unpasteurized, semi-soft cheese. The natural, rusty brown rind is hard, dry and pitted with tiny holes. The cheese is darker yellow than Emmental but the texture is more dense and compact. Slightly grainy, the cheese has a wonderful complexity of flavors - at first fruity, later becomes more earthy and nutty. To make Gruyere, raw milk is heated to 93 degrees F and liquid rennet is added for curdling. The resulting curd is cut into small pieces, which release whey while being stirred. Curd is cooked at 110 degrees F and raised quickly to 130 degrees F. The pieces become shriveled which is the cue to place the curd in molds for pressing. The cheese is salted in brine for 8 days and ripened for two months at room temperature or a quick method: 10 days at 50 degrees F. Curing lasts from 3 to 10 months (the longer the curing period the better the cheese). Country: Switzerland / Milk: cow milk / Texture: hard.

Chimay Grand Reserve
Scourmont Abbey – Chimay, Belgium
Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Aroma: The intermingling aromas of Munich-type malt, alcohol and fruity esters are typical, along with phenols (spicy products of yeast fermentation) which may be contributed by warm fermentation and/or actual spice additions. Hop aroma may vary from moderate to none. Typically there is no strong dark(roast) malt aroma.  No diacetyl. 
Appearance: Deep burgundy to dark brown in color.  Clarity may be fair to good.  Head retention may be quite good or may be adversely affected by high alcohol content. 
Flavor: Ripe fruit flavors, including raisin and plum, are common. Malt usually dominates, but some examples are balanced slightly toward bitterness.  Some spicy phenols, from ferment or actual spices, may be present.  Hop flavor can range from moderate to none.  Some sweetness is contributed by alcohol.  No diacetyl. 
Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, creamy and warming. 
Overall Impression: A dark, very rich, complex, very strong ale.

Chimay Trappist Cheese
This is a Trappist (abbey) cheese made in the Scourmont Abbey in the south of Belgium close to the French border. This cheese is usually produced in the round shape and it has a slight earthy smell of mold. Their most famous cheese is soaked in one of the Chimay beers from the abbey. Country: Belgium / Milk: cow milk / Texture: semi-soft.

Fullers Vintage Ale
Fullers Brewing Co. – Chiswick, England
English-style Barleywine

Aroma: Moderate to intense fruitiness; presence of hops (English varieties) may range from mild to assertive. A caramel-like aroma is often present.
Appearance: Color may range from rich gold to very dark amber or even brown. Often has ruby highlights. May have low head retention.
Flavor: Fruity, with a great intensity of malt. Hop bitterness may range from just enough for balance to a firm presence; balance therefore ranges from malty to bitter. Some oxidative flavors may be present, and alcohol should be evident.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, with a slick, viscous texture.  Gentle smooth warmth from alcohol should be present.
Overall Impression: The richest and strongest of the English Ales.
History/Comments: Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, and often vintage-dated. Normally aged significantly prior to release. Often associated with the winter or holiday season.  Although a hoppy beer, the English Barleywine places less emphasis on hop character than the American Barleywine and features English hops.

English Stilton
Stilton is a blue-mould cheese with a rich and mellow flavor and a piquant aftertaste. It has narrow, blue-green veins and a wrinkled rind which is not edible. Stilton is milder than Roquefort or Gorgonzola, and is equally excellent for crumbling over salads or as a dessert cheese, served with a Port Wine. There are two types of Stilton: Blue and White Stilton. Rennet is added to milk at 86 degrees F and after an hour curd forms. The curd is drained and moulded. One week passes and then Stiltons are allowed to mature for 6 to 8 months.  Country: England / Milk: cow milk / Texture: semi-hard

Schneider Brewery – Kelheim, Germany

Aroma: A powerful aroma of ripe fruit is very common.  Aroma of alcohol is also common.  Some clove-spice aroma may be present.  No hop aroma.  No diacetyl. 
Appearance: Light amber to dark brown in color.  High alcohol level may impair what would otherwise be a thick, long-lasting head.  Wheat protein content may impair clarity. 
Flavor: Concentrated wheat flavor is dominant.  Malty complexity, including smoky or raisin-like essences, may be present in darker versions.  A fruity character is common, and some clove-spice flavor may occur.  Well-aged examples may show some sherry-like oxidation as a point of complexity.  Hop bitterness is well controlled to allow wheat and malt flavors to dominate the balance. No hop flavor.  No diacetyl. 
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied.  A creamy sensation is typical, as is the warming sensation of substantial alcohol content. Moderate carbonation.
Overall Impression: A strong, malty, fruity, wheat-based ale.

Aged Provolone
Provolone is an all-purpose cheese used for cooking, dessert purposes and even grating. It is traditional, creamery, stretched, curd cheese. This cheese appears in various shapes. The thin, hard rind is golden-yellow and shiny. Sometimes it is waxed. Provolone cheese can be of various types. Dolce (mild Provolone) is aged for two to three months, and it is supple and smooth with a thin waxed rind. It is generally used as a table cheese. Aged for six months to two years, it is darker with small holes and a spicy flavor.  Country: Italy / Milk: cow milk / Texture: semi-hard.

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout
Samuel Smith Brewery – York, England
Russian Imperial Stout

Aroma: Fruity esters, reminiscent of dark fruit, merged with intense roastiness and maltiness. Hop aroma is usually also present.
Appearance: Very dark reddish-black color; opaque.
Flavor: Intensely fruity and malty, backed up by balancing roastiness and prominent hop bitterness and flavor. A "burnt currant" character may be present, along with a suggestion of cocoa or strong coffee. Alcoholic strength should be evident, along with a deep, complex malt flavor. The finish can vary from relatively dry to moderately sweet, usually with some lingering roastiness and warming character.
Mouthfeel: Very full-bodied and rich, with intense flavors and perceptible alcohol presence. Carbonation is relatively low.
Overall Impression: An intensely flavorful beer. Roasty, fruity, and bittersweet, with a notable alcohol presence. Dark fruit melds with roasty, burnt, almost tar-like sensations.
History: Said to be popular with the Russian Imperial Court.

Brie is the best known French cheese and has a nickname "The Queen of Cheeses."  Several hundred years ago, Brie was one of the tributes which had to be paid to the French kings. "Real" French Brie is unstabilized and the flavor is complex when the surface turns slightly brown. When the cheese is still pure-white, it is not matured. If the cheese is cut before the maturing process is finished, it will never develop properly. Exported Brie, however, is stabilized and never fully matures. Stabilized Brie has a much longer shelf life and is not susceptible to bacteriological infections. Brie, one of the great dessert cheeses, comes as either a 1 or 2 kilogram wheel and is packed in a wooden box. In order to enjoy the taste fully, Brie must be served at room temperature.  Country: France / Milk: cow milk / Texture: soft

Beer and Cheese
Cheryl, Craig, and Dave from Athens

Beer and Cheese
Beer Lovers from Augusta, GA

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