I've stopped writing monthly cheese and beer posts, but every now and again a pairing comes along that I have to share. I'd already intended to blog about the beer, but feeling peckish I decided tohave some cheese with it and this magic match was born.
The beer, Wild Beer's Ninkasi, by itself is one of the best I've had this year if not ever, even the champagne style bottle replete with white wax seal is a thing of beauty. Named for a Sumerian goddess of beer* this beer is certainly fit for the gods. Loosely a saison in style, but trying to categorise such a beer wouldn't really do it justice and no other beers I can think of blend both barley and apple to such aplomb (a nod to Wild's location in deepest scrumpyland). It pours a resplendent hazy amber with towering fluffy off-white head and a hefty 9%. The New Zealand hops are immediately apparent on the nose with the zippy gooseberries of sauvingnon blanc (Nelson sauvin hops) right to the fore with dusty yeast esters in behind. The spritzy light carbonation makes this a really celebratory beer. It in no way shows its strength, with a medium body, some tart citrus notes plenty more antipodean hoppiness and a complex yeast ester dry refrain.
Taleggio is one of my all time favourite cheeses and introduced to me by my good friend Ben when we had our semi-regular cheese and beer sessions whilst at university. (Ben worked on the Waitrose cheese counter; he's probably ultimately responsible for me writing these posts; so blame him!) I was pleased to find the local Asda has started stocking Tallegio at the very reasonable price of £2, so its now in my fridge more often than not. Yes, the unpasteurised version is more complex but you takes what you can get. Even before I'd swallowed my first gulp of beer I knew that the pairing was likely to be a winner.
The fruity notes of the cheese play very well with the juicy apples in the beer, they come to the fore a lot more when paired with cheese. As usual the carbonation plays a scrubbing role to refresh the palate. The slightly wild edge to the cheese plays well with equally wild saison yeast.
Try both the beer and the cheese, together if you can, but both stand up fabulously well on their own. I'm considering buying more bottles of Ninkasi to lay down...
Wild Beer Co
* CAMRA got in trouble for a giant Ninkasi poster a while back but perhaps not quite as much as with naturale a few years before...