Its been a few months, but that doesn't mean the cheese and beer pairing has fallen by the wayside. In fact its stepped up somewhat as I did 50 pairings in September and October in preparation for the e-book I am writing. I still had some spare time (and more importantly spare cheese!) to do a pairing for the blog though.
This month its a Trans-Atlantic mash-up with a beer from across the pond and a cheese from sunny Cornwall. I picked up the beer (a bottle of Alesmith Old Numbskull if you haven't yet read the post title) from Brewdog online. There are still some left if you're quick. At £15.29 its at the pricier end of the spectrum but for an 11% beer in a 750ml bottle its comparable to the price of a bottle of wine (and in my view much tastier).
It pours dark amber with fluffy off-white head. Amazing sticky orange marmalade and underlying ginger-snap biscuits. Quite sweet, light bodied, oranges, crystal malt, orange pith, balanced with malt bitterness. Touch of mango, long dry orange juice fairly pithy finish. It reminds me somewhat of Franciscan Well Bell Ringer with a bigger hop-hit.
The cheese is on the milder side of the blue spectrum, though still fairly funky and creamy. The pale yellow paste has a few slashes of blue bacteria which of course yield the most interesting flavours. Its also on the firm side for a cheese.
Initially the cheese is lost against the hop onslaught of the beer, but it soon regains ground stomping an hitherto unseen fruitiness into the middle of the mix. The gentler carbonation (Alesmith bottle condition expertly, some UK brewers could learn a thing or two) means the cheese sticks around a bit longer allowing a progression of flavours to develop.
Its a solid, complementary pairing but I think a funkier, stickier blue cheese might even be better still. Try a Gorgonzola piccante or even a Shepherd's Purse Yorkshire Blue. For those of you that aren't blue inclined then you can't beat a good mature cheddar with a barley wine. The hops are pretty brash; so pick something with plenty of flavour.
I also got bottles of Wee Heavy, Yulesmith (summer), X and Speedway stout all of which were tasty, though the darker beers were perhaps a tad over-boozy. The pale ales were exceptional though and the 650ml bottles were finished in short shrift. I was aware of Alesmith from their rave reviews on rate beer, but now I have tried some I will definitely be looking out for others.