A trip to York recently saw me visiting the York Beer and Wine Shop. Reasonably priced, with a good selection of beers from the UK and further afield. Look out for the 25th jubilee porter, which is especially tasty (and actually over a year old at this point!) This fine establishment has something that all beer shops should; a cheese counter! A great selection of cheeses are in attendance, which made for much deliberation with ample help from Jim, the shop's owner. I finally settled on three:
Ribblesdale Blue goat - this is an unmistakably goaty number but it also has the lovely ripe fruit notes of a soft blue cheese like cambazola.
Ogleshield is a washed rind cheese that had travelled all the way to the shop from Somerset (in fact a few miles from my front door!). Made by Jersey cows owned by the Montgomery Cheddar Farm. It was brine washed, fairly mild with an open texture and nutty rind.
Barncliffe is a "Yorkshire Brie" from Sherley, nr Huddersfield. It is made from a Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows and has a buttery lemon flavour in the paste, with a chalkiness in the rind, reflecting the flavours in the immature centre.
Now, those of you who have been following this blog for the last half year or so will know that I love to pair beer and cheese; so using some beers I had to hand (picked up in the York Tap the day before) I decided to see what would work. The two beers in question were both American takes on Belgian beers, Great Divide Belgica and Brooklyn Sorachi Ace.
I tried the Belgica first.Its a golden ale with light carbonation and thin white head. A great nose of pineapple and some brett funk along with a hint of spearmint (hope it doesn’t carryover to taste!). Fairly typical sweet Belgian body with plenty of fruitiness and a bit of bitter in the finish. Medium bodied fairly sweet and longlasting. Nice enough then, but how did it fair with the cheeses? The blue brought out an unpleasant metallic bitterness, I've found this before with hoppy beers and blue cheeses. The beer overpowers the barncliffe, obliterating any flavour. However with the Ogleshield the cheese is intensified, the fruity flavours from the brining come to the fore and are complemented by the fruity hops. The rind (which some people choose not to eat) tasted even more fantastic.
The Sorachi Ace is a beer I'd heard good things about, though I've had mixed opinions on the hop itself.. Complex hay, bubblegum, tangerine, sherbert nose. Slightly hazy blonde. Open fluffy head. Mellow, bit of brett, pineapple, sweet. Long moreish finish - this is the best exhibit I've seen of this hop, the grassy flavours I pick up from the hop are reflected by the mild Brett of a saison yeast.
With the blue cheese each becomes more fruity. The goatiness is lost and it becomes like a ripe cashel blue. The beer's yeast esters become more noticable in the taste and the finish lasts longer. Too much though and it becomes almost unbearably sweet.
The Ogleshield is the defeated cheese this time, the flavours are obscured by the complex beer, though the rind brings out more of the brett flavours in the beer.
Barncliffe takes on an interesting cherry flavour and both beer and cheese become fantastic, bouncing back and forth off of each other. Incidentally the cheese goes particularly well with Chinese spring-onion bread.
So a few decent pairings in the bunch this month, but for me the Barncliffe and Sorachi Ace just edges it; so that's the CABPOM.