Blind Tasting Comments...
More beer destinations on our Brewtopia Events webpage...
/ Cumming, GA
- Austin, TX
- Chicago, IL
- Montreal, Canada
England - RI, NH, ME
- New Orleans, LA 1999
Orleans Beer Tour Photos 2001
- New Orleans Craft Brewers Conf. 2003
- New York, NY
Munich, Bamberg, Kulmbach, and Berlin
Munich, Kelheim, and Regensburg
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Tampa, FL
- Chimay Trappist
- Orval Trappist
- Rochefort Trappist
- Westvleteren Trappist
- Westmalle Trappist
I'M A BELIEVER IN BEER AND CHEESE
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
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.
Dean, Jeff and Thel did a great job
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
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.
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 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
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
Overall Impression: A pale, moderately fruity, spicy, very
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 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
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
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
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.
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
Overall Impression: A strong, malty, fruity, wheat-based ale.
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
Mouthfeel: Very full-bodied and rich, with intense flavors
and perceptible alcohol presence. Carbonation is relatively
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:
Cheryl, Craig, and Dave from Athens
Beer Lovers from Augusta, GA