Something a little different cheese and beer wise this month. Perusing my local Eastern European food store I came across a selection of nominally alcohol free Kvass beers. Kvass is fermented from rye bread and a beer style I've been interested in since reading Pete Brown's account in Three Sheets to the Wind. Here's what I picked up:
|Yes, the middle one is in a plastic bottle!|
These particular examples are from Lithuania and Latvia. I don't expect them to be a patch on the real thing, particularly the one in PET (I suspect this is made with syrup and force carbonated) but its fun to try new things and ranging from 50p- £1.10 in price they don't exactly break the bank.
|In drinking order Porteris, Kvasa, Gira Kvass.|
Bauska Porteris Bezalkoholisks pours a ruby tinged brown with a lacing of tan head. Lactose sweetness on nose but fairly faint. Fairly sweet with plenty of carbonation, fudgey full bodied, plum, muscavado and toffee finish.
The Sencu Kvass is a sparkling ruby chestnut with lacing of off white head. You can see its fairly similar to the porteris in appearance. Malty with sultanas, dusty flour on the nose. Very fizzy, very sweet but not exactly unpleasant. Sweetened coke.
Best of the bunch is Seno Rusio,unsurprisingly the "strongest" at 1.5%. It also differs somewhat from theother two in that it retains its head. Perhaps this is actually brewed? Dark chestnut with a tan head, retains well, sour aged fruit and christmas cake on the nose. High carbonation with a sweet molasses and fudge flavour, but the body helps to absorb it and prevent cloying. Liquid Edinburgh tablet with stewed plums. I'd love to try a higher strength version of this...I guess that would be a scotch ale.
What better to go with Lithuanian and Latvian beers than the corresponding cheese? I also picked up an unaged and a smoked Gouda style cheese from the same shop. Certainly thefirst time I've tried Latvian cheese.
Diplomats Siers (unaged) first, its waxy with a semi-open texture (holes) Rich milk fattiness and a semi-aged edam quality about it with a hint of smoke. Slightly waxy texture. Would make a good beer cheese for snacking on with a pilsner.
The Rokiskio Suris Rukytas appears to be a smoked cheese,with waxed rind. The paste here is solid and a darker yellow than the first cheese. There's a good level of oak smoke on the nose and immediately smoky in the mouth with a richer depth of flavour and very Edam like, unaged cheese.
So how do they fare with the beers? Well the Diplomats reduces the porteris sweetness whereas the Rokisko brings outblack forest ham notes. The same cheese coaxes kola from the PET-bottled Sencu whereas Diplomats does nothing much. It does add a lot of depth to the flavour of the Seno Rusio however, the richness of the cheese complementing the texture and taming the sickliness somewhat,could enjoy the whole bottle with the cheese in tow. The smoked cheese, whilst tasting good has an unusual chalky texture with the Seno; so falls down at thefinal hurdle.
The winner this month? Seno Rusio Kvass and Diplomats Siers. What are your thoughts on kvass (interesting article here from Beer Hunter Michael Jackson)? Have you ever tried any beer /cheese from Lithuania or Latvia or where's the most exotic place you've had beer/cheese from?