I've decided to get my cheese and beer pairing up early this month as its British cheese week this week.
|Dorset Blue Vinney nom nom nom|
Whilst at Factoberfest I picked up some Dorset Blue Vinney. Ashamedly I have not yet tried this cheese despite having lived adjacent to the county for the first 23 years of my life (first in Somerset and then in Hampshire). A slightly less pungent cheese than stilton, it still has the ripe fruit and goaty flavours that you would associate with a blue. A word of warning, the outer rind is not edible!
|Hardknott Æther Blæc nom nom nom|
Looking through my beer cupboard I selected a British beer to match this British cheese: Hardknott Æther Blæc 28 y/o whisky aged. Having had the 27 y/o I was hoping this stout would be able to stand up to the cheese. In the nose it was all there, the ripe cranberries and sweet caramels would match this cheese. Together though they jarred perilously. The whisky notes (which when drinking the beer alone give a warm glow) took on an unpleasant metallic note with the cheese.
|Cheese and beer double nom nom nom!|
|De Dolle Oerbier|
Back to the cupboard then and I picked out De Dolle Oerbier, a 9% Belgian monstrosity. This was a bit of a gusher, it took me two minutes to get the lid off. When I finally got it poured it had an aroma of pineapple, fruity, yes but not quite the same as you'd find in a blue cheese. However when the two came together it was like magic on the palate. The gentle carbonation helped to scrub the sticky cheese from the palate whilst the cheese found ripe hedgerow fruit flavours in the beer that previously the yeasts' esters had hidden. The oatcakes I ate with the cheese brought out some of the malt character too making for a rounded drinking experience, with the alcohol providing a lasting warmth to brace against the oncoming winter (It may be an Indian summer in England but it certainly isn't here in Northern Ireland!).
So that's it then, cheese and beer pairing of the month is Dorset Blue Vinney and De Dolle Oerbier. I daresay another Belgian strong ale would pair equally well, but i think it needs to be a hard fruity blue, stilton wouldn't quite work and neither did the blacksticks i also tried.