Friday, May 8, 2009

More about Beer and Wine than You Imagined Possible

Chris Black from Falling Rock Tap House explained to the crowd of 75, "Beer is like scrubbing bubbles for your mouth. It picks up all the fats and flavors from the cheese and moves them to your taste buds." A lot of flavor was scrubbed around in mouths last night at Embassy Suites in Englewood, Colorado.
Black and Beer Meister Bryan Baltzell paired Great Divide beers with cheeses from Grafton Village (Vermont) and Beehive (Utah).
The first pairing was a bonus with Grafton cheddars -- 1,2,3 and 4 year aged versions. It was amazing to taste the differences in the same cheese at different ages. The cheese was creamy, mellow and subtle when young, earthy and bold at year two, creamy again and crumbly at 3 and what some might call the ultimate cheddar at 4. The Saison beer, a seasonal Belgian, dramatically revealed its character when mixed with the cheese. Grafton's 2 year old Cheddar took a silver this year at the World Cheese Competition in Dublin Ireland this year and another silver
From Fromage to Yours 05/07/2009

The second pairing put Samurai, an unfiltered rice beer, with Beehive's Big John's Cajun. Big John's is a flavored Irish-style cheese with high butter-fat. Tim Welsh explained the process as starting with their Promontory cheese rubbed with a Cajun seasoning developed by Uintah local chef, Big John Deerman. The rub infuses the entire wheel of cheese with a wonderful smoky cayenne pepper kick. It took a 2nd Place award at the American Cheese Society Competition in 2008.
From Fromage to Yours 05/07/2009
Surprisingly, the rice beer was a nice foil for the Cajun flavoring. This was the last cheese I photographed. My camera phone just was not up to the task of adequately representing the subtle differences in the cheeses.
The subtle smokiness of Denver Pale Ale meshed smoothly with the Grafton Maple Smoked Cheddar. This smoked cheddar took home a bronze from the World Cheese Competition in Dublin. Beehive also has a smoked cheddar. Theirs, smoked with Apple Walnut, took a 3rd place at the American Cheese Competition in 2008. We did not get to taste this one.
Beehive's Emigrant was a mistake cheese. Welsh explained that they intended to make a Parmesan cheese, but the moisture and fat content were too high. Their first attempt, they hand stirred the cheese for 2 1/2 hours trying to dry it out and help it develop as a classic Parmesan. They basically gave up, threw it in the aging room and, 6 months later, discovered they had a wonderful cheese. Black paired this creamy, but sharp and flavorful cheese with a hefeweissen, Great Divide Dunkel Weiss which has just a hint of the classic banana and clove.
The final pairing was a nutty, dark, chocolaty Saint Bridget's Porter with the espresso and lavender rubbed Beehive Barely Buzzed. As with the Big John's Cajun, the rub infuses the entire wheel of cheese. One might expect that the espresso would totally overpower the lavender and the cheddar, but the combination works in an unexpected harmony. The judges at the American Cheese Society love this cheese and have given it 1st place two years in a row, 2007 and 2008. While I loved this cheese at 8:00 pm, I had really mean things to say about it at 4:00 am, when I was more than barely buzzed and wide awake when I really wanted to be asleep. Warning to caffeine sensitive, this one may be a morning only treat!
Other cheeses were available for nibbling before and after the formal program, including Beehive's deceptively named Rooster's Heavenly Cream, a cheddar blended with a local beer. This is a saucy little number that Welsh says is highly variable. Grafton's Sage Cheddar was displayed at the Leopold Bros. Distillery table where it paired nicely with Three Pins Alpine Herbal liqueur.
Other tables lining the room offered nibbles of Primo Specialty Foods' new Blackberry Serrano Preserves on 34 Degrees Crispbreads, Wild Women Truffles and World Cuisine Spices. All are local products and among the selections at Fromage to Yours.


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